In profile: Alyson Foyle, Sister Bud Flanagan ward

Alyson Foyle, Sister on Bud Flanagan ward, explains a little bit about her journey and time at The Royal Marsden in Sutton.

I trained as a nurse in Plymouth in 1988 where I worked for 10 years in total and moved into oncology nursing in 1992.

I just loved the fact I could do so much for the patient by doing so little. It was the smallest things that meant so much to my patients. Most nurses could learn to give chemotherapy but it’s not for everyone to take the time and listen to someone who was going through possibly the scariest point in their lives.

We always had The Royal Marsden Nursing Manual on the ward and we would refer to it all the time. I used to think then, one day I would quite like to work at The Royal Marsden.

In 1998 I moved to Saudi Arabia and worked as a nurse in haematology in various roles for 10 years. I learnt to speak Arabic so I could communicate with my patients without the need of a translator.

When I returned to the UK in 2008 I decided to follow up on my ambition to work at The Royal Marsden and started working as a bank nurse on Bud Flanagan and Kennaway wards for a short time. I really enjoyed working with haematology patients overseas so when a staff nurse position came up on Bud Flanagan came up I went for it. I was eventually promoted to Sister and one of my proudest achievements is coming second with my colleague in Oncology Nurse of the Year in the British Journal of Nursing Awards. My team also won the Trust’s staff achievement award for Working Together.

Throughout all my nursing posts my main passion has always been the patients. I think we are so privileged to work in an environment that can make such a difference to people’s lives. I always encourage my team of nurses to spend as much time with patients as we can as that is by far the most rewarding part of our work and can have so much impact on the patient journey. We see a large volume of patients a day in day-care and outpatients as both are in the same unit, from 8am until 6pm where patients will come in for chemo and supportive therapies.

In my Sister role I also take great pride in supporting and developing my staff in their chosen career paths as it helps us retain good nurses. They need to feel like they have a future where they can develop new skills, for example a few of the team have been trained in apheresis, a procedure that collects stem cells from a patient.

I have always been lucky to work with some amazing people and have been able to progress my career whilst still enjoying the flexibility of working part time.