Being first is becoming something of a habit for Cathy Hutchison at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre.
Appointed the first Consultant Nurse for Cancer in Scotland in 2001, she also completed an intensive academic programme at the University of Stirling last year to become Scotland’s first ever Doctor of Nursing.
The academic qualification is the highest level of study in the nursing profession and is designed for nurses who want to remain in clinical practice while making a significant contribution to improving patient care.
Cathy’s doctorate involved six years hard work including two years of assignment work followed by four years on a thesis.
Considering she was also working full-time as a consultant nurse and having the second of her two children at the time, this was quite an achievement.
Looking back, Cathy admits it was a bit of a challenge. She said: “I always intended to do this at some point – although perhaps taking it on just a year into a new job wasn’t the best time. And then I had my second daughter in the midst of it all. But in life, you can’t plan everything.”
As she explains, all the hard work paid off. “Throughout my career, I have been committed to developing research and cancer nursing practice to improve patient care. As nurse specialist and manager of the Clinical Research Unit at the Beatson, I was involved with all aspects of cancer clinical trials and this provided the opportunity to develop clinical trials nursing and nursing research.
“Now in my role as Consultant Nurse for Cancer in Greater Glasgow and Clyde , I am responsible for professional leadership, research and education, expert practice and service development.
“Everything I studied in my doctorate I have subsequently used in my work, both in the development of nurse-led research and in advancing the contribution of nurses to multi-disciplinary clinical research.
“Today, nursing research at the Beatson is thriving. As well as various nurse-led studies with nurses as principle investigators, there is also a large portfolio of multi-professional cancer trials which involve nursing staff.
“Studying for my doctorate was definitely the right decision. Whilst the commitment required was substantial, the results were worth it. It is really helped me do my job, and I really believe I now do it better.”
For more information contact NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Communications on 0141 201 4429.