As experienced oncology nurses know, a cancer diagnosis is only the first step on a long and challenging road ahead—for patients and providers alike. For both, a wide range of procedures becomes part and parcel of every day.
Whether it's a diagnosis, prep and recovery from chemotherapy or radiation therapy, pre- and post-surgery, pain management, blood draws, biopsies, scans, or MRIs, the trials continue through to recovery or to hospice care. For the nurse, mastery of all these facets of care is essential to growth and improved patient outcomes. That's why a new partnering scholarship between the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and Johns Hopkins Hospital is so eagerly anticipated.
The Susan D. Flynn Oncology Nursing Development Program immerses students from top undergraduate nursing schools in applied oncology training. The hospital and School of Nursing will host two students in three semester's worth of direct mentorship and hands-on participation that will accelerate their ability to hit the ground running when they begin work as full-time oncology nurses.
The fellowship's namesake, Susan Flynn, died of ovarian cancer in 2013 after a three-year battle with the disease. Inspired by the skill and compassion of nurses at the Connecticut hospital where his wife received care, Frederick C. Flynn Jr. created the fellowship to honor her memory and to help develop the next generation of oncology nurses across the nation.
"By partnering with the country's leading hospitals and best nursing schools through this program, I believe we can inspire, attract, and foster the development of potential oncology nurses," says Flynn, a retired business executive.
The School of Nursing faculty and Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center practitioners committed to creating a customized training experience that allows Flynn Fellows to observe and participate in the full range of oncology specialties and responsibilities. The School of Nursing and hospital expect to select the first two students for the fellowship in September, according to Associate Professor Jennifer Wenzel, PhD, RN.
From the start, fellows will rotate among all the challenges nurses have on any given day—for example, caring for one patient with a tracheotomy and another undergoing chemotherapy. "These specific experiences will expose fellows to the continuum of care in oncology," says Sharon Krumm, PhD, RN, director of nursing and clinical administrator at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center. "We don't think of caring for cancer patients as you would other patients. This isn't about a single episode of care."
Caitlin Brown is a 2015 Emory University graduate and Flynn Fellow recently hired to join Hopkins Hospital's hematology oncology and blood and marrow transplant unit. "When I first started the fellowship [at Massachusetts General Hospital], I'd had little oncology experience, and I didn't know that amount of suffering existed in the world," says Brown. "Within the first two weeks, I saw three horrific and painful deaths, and I thought I'd made a mistake. But soon I realized that even though we can't save every patient, it's our job to maintain the patient's dignity in life and in death."
It's this attitude that Fred Flynn hopes to nurture through the fellowship.
Johns Hopkins School of Nursing