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Published: 11 March 2024

The people behind our programmes: 5 minutes with Dr Alissa Connors, BreastCheck

Dr Alissa Connors, Clinical Director and lead Radiologist, BreastCheck Southern Unit, Cork

Dr Alissa Connors is Clinical Director and lead Radiologist with the BreastCheck Southern Unit in Cork. With 21 years experience as a Consultant Radiologist, Dr Connors took up her role with BreastCheck in 2006 and was involved in setting up the unit in Cork.

We took five minutes with Dr Connors to learn more about her day job and a little about life outside of work.

How does your day start?

Before I go to work, I sort lunches for my 11-year-old son and my daughters, aged 16 and 18. We chat over breakfast and my husband and I split dropping the kids to school.

I arrive at work in the BreastCheck unit in Cork around 8:30am.

Tell us about the team you work with

I work in a team with radiographers, radiologists, breast care nurses, surgeons, healthcare assistants and a great group of clerical staff. We work together to make sure every woman gets the best care and support.

What does your typical working day involve?

The day starts with women recalled from screening to investigate something on their mammogram. Mostly everything turns out normal after this assessment. Only a small number of women will need a biopsy and we aim to do it all in the one visit.

The team has lunch most days in the unit kitchen where we catch up with life outside of work.

In the afternoon, routine screening appointments get under way. We look for abnormalities or changes in the breast that could be cancer in women with no symptoms - when cancer is still small. This means it’s often diagnosed at an earlier stage and can be more easily treated or cured.

Every mammogram is looked at by two specialist radiologists. We get together to discuss some results as a group. This helps us pick up the maximum number of abnormalities that might be cancers.

What motivates you in your work?

It’s great when a woman comes in who has never been for a screening test. I have an opportunity to talk with her about how she’s taking a positive step for her health.

What advice would you give women coming for breast screening?

My top tip is to wear a top and trousers, no dresses.

We will always work to make the screening test as comfortable as possible for women. The mammogram means a little pressure, but only for a few seconds. The appointment is all over in 10 to 15 minutes.

And after work, how do you spend your evenings?

On the way home from work, I collect the kids from after-school activities - music and swimming. The family is home for dinner, which we try to batch cook at weekends – a lifesaver.

Later in the evening, I will sometimes go for a walk with a friend or do Pilates. It’s important to me to be active. For one thing, it reduces the risk of breast cancer.

First published in the Irish Examiner, 14 October 2022: Working Life: BreastCheck detects about 1,200 women with breast cancer per year

We’re recruiting. Come and work with us.

  • We’re creating a panel of Senior Radiographers (mammography) to join our BreastCheck team. Full and part-time posts are available across our four screening units in hospitals and our 24 mobile clinics.
  • Find out more about our recruitment campaigns for Consultant Radiologists by searching for jobs on HSE Job Search.
  • Keep up to date with all of our news: read our blogs and follow us on X @NSShse and on LinkedIn.