Hi KILN scholars!
I graduated from CSON in 2013 and almost immediately began working as an RN through the Medstar Georgetown University Hospital (MGUH)nurse residency program. I work on a medical oncology unit, so I primarily see patients with solid tumor cancers – breast, lung, pancreatic, colorectal, cervical, etc. I care for patients throughout all stages of their disease. While some patients have good prognoses, others are holding on for dear life as they battle metastatic cancers, endure painful radiation, and receive multiple rounds of chemotherapy. Some respond well to the combination of treatments, others face the difficult decision of continuing with aggressive treatment or transitioning into palliative care or hospice. I have the privilege of helping my patients navigate these trying times. I administer chemotherapy, manage debilitating side effects, and advocate for their needs when they often cannot. Though this can be physically, emotionally, and spiritually taxing on all involved, it is incredibly rewarding, and I love what I do.
While I have learned a great deal during my 18 months as an RN, I could not have made it this far alone. Georgetown’s residency program provided additional support and resources to facilitate my first year as a nurse, including skills classes and an oncology fellowship that expanded my knowledge and familiarity with the needs of our patient population. I highly recommend residency programs because they help you build fundamental nursing skills, ultimately establishing a strong foundation to help you succeed in your nursing career. I also enjoyed learning alongside other new graduate nurses; you develop a sense of camaraderie that is irreplaceable during a time of great anxiety, fear, and stress.
Despite how much I have learned, I still look to my fellow nurses, educator, and manager for assistance on a regular basis. They are my most valuable resource. My most important piece of advice for new nurses is to never be afraid to ask questions; your coworkers offer a wealth of knowledge and are always willing to help. Don’t ever feel embarrassed because there is no such thing as a silly question – the patient’s safety is the ultimate priority.
Currently I am precepting students and new graduate nurses on our unit. I was hesitant in the beginning, but you will find that you know much more than you think. It is important to be confident in your abilities, yet you must also be able to identify your areas of weakness and seek help when necessary. The opportunity to share knowledge and experiences with new nurses is humbling and rewarding, and of course so much fun!
I also serve on a hospital-wide wellness committee at MGUH that promotes end-of-life care in patients throughout their disease trajectory. In other words, we advocate for these patients to ensure that they are comfortable whether they have just been diagnosed or have reached a terminal stage in their disease. I never would have imagined myself to develop such an interest in oncology and palliative care. In nursing school, I actually pictured myself to be in pediatrics or obstetrics. I’m fortunate to have found a specialty that I am truly passionate about, and I advise new nurses to keep exploring all avenues until they find their niche. I cannot stress the importance of doing what you love. It will translate into the care you provide, ultimately making you and your patients happy.