I am a forty-one year old wife and mother of one twelve year old daughter. I have been a nurse for eighteen years, thirteen of which have been in Oncology. My first job as a nurse was at a nursing home. I knew I did not want to be there long term as my goal was to be an Oncology nurse. I am not sure why I wanted to be an Oncology nurse as I did not have a close family member or friend that had suffered from Cancer, but I knew that is what I wanted to do. I got hired on the Oncology floor at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in 1997 and worked there for five years before transferring to the Bone-Marrow Transplant floor.
I worked there for about six months before transferring to the new Leukemia/Lymphoma floor where they needed experienced chemotherapy nurses to start the new floor. And well, that is where I still am today. On the Leukemia/Lymphoma floor we admit all the newly diagnosed patients with Leukemia/Lymphoma, or other blood disorders, that are referred to Barnes. Our patients are usually receiving initial treatment (chemotherapy), receiving a bone-marrow/stem-cell transplant, receiving consolidation chemotherapy (consecutive doses), or being treated for complications after transplant/chemotherapy.
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I give a lot of chemotherapy, blood products, and MANY antibiotics due to our patients being severely immunocompromised due to their chemotherapy. Most of our patients are severely immunocompromised due to the high dose chemotherapy that they receive and are very susceptible to infection, often leading to sepsis. It is very important to be proactive when caring for this type of patient because bad to worse can happen within minutes. I am also frequently the charge nurse on the floor which includes: supervising RNs and patient care technicians, making assignments, and putting out “fires” throughout the shift.
Nursing to me is a calling to make a difference in the lives of others. I truly find personal fulfillment in caring for others. Nursing is caring and non-judgmental. Nursing is gaining knowledge, technical, and interpersonal skills and applying them to meet the needs of a patient. Nursing is having compassion for others and being a strong patient advocate. Nursing exists because the ill need to be cared for. Many people consider Florence Nightingale the founder of modern nursing. Her contributions to medicine and statistics changed the way the world looks at nursing today.
Florence Nightingale and a team of volunteers were sent to a camp in Turkey where they immediately began cleaning and organizing hospital equipment. This was one of the first steps toward better healthcare systems providing help to everyone who needed it. I believe most nurses are the most caring and non-judgmental people on this earth. When the work is so hard and stressful most of the time, we keep plugging along and continue to do what we do to the best of our ability. Our patients are what keep us going.
Patients and the differences among them are what create interest, uniqueness, and learning experiences in the world. It takes all kinds of nurses to care for our patients, as I have already learned from some of my classmates. It takes nurses who sit behind a desk and study charts to help the doctors uncover hidden histories with illnesses, to the nurses giving direct patient care. Communities are also influential. Communities that encourage healthy lifestyles and screenings for different diseases equal less disease and possible reduction in hospital admissions.
The more wellness programs that we have for the community means more knowledge for people which means there will be healthier people, which equals less disease. Nurses have a responsibility to their patients. To be caring, non-judgmental, and an advocate for them at all times. They need to understand the needs of the patient and family at all times. They should use their knowledge and experience to make the right decisions in every situation. Nurses also have a responsibility to the community in regards to health. I believe a person in health should encourage healthy habits onto others.
Healthy living is a way of life and can easily be passed on to the younger generation. It is sometimes difficult to change adults’ habits, but children can easily be guided towards healthy living by their parents, schools, and their communities. The environment is also a key component to the well-being of people and is influenced by many internal and external circumstances. The major domains of nursing are all connected. Nursing includes: knowledge, teaching, practice, and service – these cannot be done alone and must intertwine one with another.
My vision for nursing is for patients to continue to see the nurse as one of their many healers and for those that think nurses, “just pass medicine”; to realize how much knowledge, value, and experience it takes to make even the smallest decisions when trying to give the best care possible to their patients. I face many challenges being a Leukemia/Lymphoma nurse. Most of our patients are receiving high dose chemotherapy for their disease and their stay in the hospital is usually pretty long. Their stay could be as little as two weeks or as long as a couple of months depending on any complications that may arise.
This is usually the most difficult time in their lives as well as their families. I feel blessed to be able to educate, comfort, and leave them with a higher level of well-being after caring for them. I feel that I face every challenge head on. If the doctors and nurses aren’t able to restore health in our patients, we assist patients with dignity and care in living the rest of their life the best possible way they can. I am an educator, a compassionate support person, and a strong patient advocate. I have reached several goals in my professional development. I applied for and received my PNDP (Professional Nursing Development Program).
The PNDP recognizes and rewards nurses for professional development and organizational commitment through validation of practice level and professional contributions (Ray, 2009) . I also recently obtained my OCN (Oncology Certification in Nursing). I have been in the Oncology field for thirteen years and always thought that taking the OCN exam would just get me more letters behind my name, but it was one of my goals on my evaluation that I felt I needed to complete. I now feel that it isn’t just more letters behind my name, but that I am dedicated to more than the minimum that is required.
I feel I am educated in multiple facets of Oncology and I will in turn be a better nurse to my patients. My next goal is completing the RN to BSN program at Goldfarb and gaining even more knowledge to be able to educate and care for my patients. I originally had no intention on further education, other than my BSN, but have recently had some interest in nurse education. Maybe obtaining my MSN and being a nurse educator will be in my future. References 1. Ray, S. (2009) Building employee retention and engagement through workforce empowerment (pdf document). Retrieved from http://www. hresults. com/documents/BarnesJewish. pdf