Working within the field of oncology can be daunting for many nurses. While there are treatments for all sorts of different cancers, in the end cancer claims the lives of a great deal of patients. It takes a strong person to endure suffering, dying, and loss as a part of their daily job. Luckily we have nurses such as Lindsay Rehm an oncology RN and nurse educator at the Cancer Treatment Center of America.
Lindsay spent around 5 years of her career working in oncology facilities before she went on to work as a nurse educator for children and families struggling with the fight against cancer. With her help nurses, facilities and educators are able to build a better infrastructure to educate individuals about cancer, it’s impacts, and ways to cope and deal with it’s effects on the family and community.
Lindsay can you tell us a bit about your career as a nurse?
I chose nursing specifically to work with oncology patients. I started my career on the oncology/hospice unit at a local hospital 11 years ago. After about 18 months I took a job working in the infusion center of a very busy outpatient oncology facility where I worked for a little more than 5 years before joining the team at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA).
How exactly did you fall into the role of a nurse educator at the Cancer Center?
I served on the board of the Northeast Oklahoma Oncology Nurses Society (NEOONS) with Teri Jennings, the director of clinical services here at CTCA. I mentioned that I was considering a position at another institution and she encouraged me to explore options at CTCA, specifically in the Education Department. They had recently approved a position for a nurse educator to serve both patients and Stakeholders (employees). It seemed like a great opportunity and when I interviewed I was impressed with their dedication to patient care and overall quality of the facility.
Can you describe what it is you do at the hospital? Kind of your 9-5 on an average day?
One of the great things about working as a nurse educator is the variety. My favorite program is Children’s Lives Include Moments of Bravery (CLIMB). This psychosocial group support program is designed for children and teens dealing with a family member diagnosed with cancer. We also provide books for parents and children about cancer and distribute backpacks with age appropriate activities. In the summer and fall I coordinate our New Graduate Nurse Onboarding Program. In the winter I work with the Safety Committee to develop and distribute safety materials that are utilized for new hire orientation and distributed annually to all Stakeholders. We build curriculum for annual nursing education in the spring. Throughout the year I organize weekly clinical staff education opportunities, teach the Oncology Nursing Society Chemotherapy and Biotherapy course and educate new Stakeholders on safety and regulatory compliance.
It seems like working in this role, or with cancer in general, could be very emotionally trying. Is it? And how have you managed to deal with that aspect of this job?
There are times that are harder than others. We are fortunate here to have support from our Mind Body Medicine and Pastoral care teams. We are encouraged to maintain a healthy lifestyle and work life balance.
What is it about what you do that makes you passionate about your job? What are the most rewarding aspects of it?
I feel like what I do impacts patients and their care, as well as, contributes to the overall success of my fellow Stakeholders. The most rewarding part is the privilege to develop relationships with patients and their family.
If someone was thinking of moving into the nurse educator role, or working in a cancer center like you do, what kind of education and experience would you recommend?
I would encourage those interested in pursuing the nurse educator role to become familiar with regulatory guidelines and institutional policies and procedures. Additionally a nurse educator should be an effective communicator and know different teaching strategies and learning styles. Oncology is a great specialty.
Any final words to up and coming nursing students that are looking toward their own careers?
Nursing provides a wide variety of opportunities. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box with regard to opportunities that are available. I would also encourage nursing students to get involved with their professional organizations, as this provides a great professional network. Also, never stop learning!