Outpatient oncology care is provided through Community Cancer Centers at the Community hospital campuses (North, East and South). Oncology nursing includes medical oncology and radiation oncology. Diagnoses of patients seen at these centers include cancer or hematologic (blood) disorders. Patients are 18 years of age and older.
Oncology outpatient is an area where you give a lot, but also gain a lot—an area where you learn every day and have a close relationship with patients, families, peers and physicians. Outstanding nurses in this area desire to work with patients who need care on an ongoing basis. They have the maturity to be able to discuss life and death with patients daily. They embrace diversity. Along with their great technical skills, they are compassionate and caring every day. Above all, they want to make a difference in the lives they touch.
The staffing mix depends on the acuity, but is usually one nurse to four or five patients at any one time. Types of nurses employed include RN, LPN and PSP.
Daily nursing activities may include working in the physician office areas, medical oncology/hematology treatment, infusion and radiation oncology treatment.
Depending on location, specialized equipment used during care may include Alaris pumps, electric carts, Varian Clinac iX linear accelerator (imaging), and Philips Brilliance CT Big Bore.
Nurses in this area are truly patient advocates and they will tell you that they receive much more from the patients than they give. They experience high levels of satisfaction from the work that they do and their greatest joy is the relationships they have with their patients and their co-workers. The nurses in this area are such a high-performing work group that, many times, they can read each others' minds. They are all team players and look out for each other in every situation.
A team member at Community Cancer Center East provides further insight into the nursing environment:
"We are fortunate to work in an area that allows us to have continuity with our patients, an area where our patients become “family.” The field is ever-changing and offers opportunities to be a life-long student. We work with physicians who are competent, caring individuals who truly work collaboratively with us. Our team is a team that cares deeply for each other and our patients. This is not a rose garden; there are moments and people who “break your heart.” But, it is the place everyone of us chooses to be at. We are “sorry” anyone has to be here with an oncology or hematology condition but we want to provide the best care possible in every encounter with our patients."
Community Cancer Center North
At Community Cancer Center North there are 15 treatment areas, four exam rooms for medical oncology and five exam rooms for radiation oncology. 8-, 10- and 12-hour shifts are available. Current hours of operation are 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (medical oncology) and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (radiation oncology).
Nurses at north enjoy working there because, "The patients we care for are so inspiring and so awesome." They stay in this area because, "The staff works together as a team. We have a lot of fun and provide exceptional care to our patients!"
Exceptional patient experience
One team leader recalls several exceptional patient experiences at the North outpatient center: "We have arranged special graduation ceremonies, anniversary parties and most recently helped a patient’s son with his Eagle Scout project by establishing a memory garden here. Members of the staff have received many awards related to the outstanding patient care they provide. We have had four Nursing Excellence Award winners in the department—three for providing patient-focused care and one for the art and science of nursing. We have also had a Daisy Award winner. We bake Otis Spunkmeyer cookies and serve them to the patients and their families."
Community Cancer Center East
At Community Cancer Center East there are 14 treatment areas, six exam rooms for medical oncology and four exam rooms for radiation oncology. Eight-hour shifts are available. Current hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in both medical and radiation oncology.
Nurses here feel that the patients make the unit special: "We see many patients over long periods of time, sometimes months and sometimes years. We have the opportunity to make a difference in our patients' lives and they, in turn, make a difference in ours. We work in a collaborative environment with everyone focusing on the patients and their families."
Exceptional patient experience
In the words of a unit leader, there are exceptional experiences daily:
- "Working with patients to assist with the many financial issues they face; we have a social worker and a triage nurse who focus on helping the patients get the resources they need. We have been able to obtain funding for the many medications patients require.
- We coordinate care so patients can have labs and infusions or injections with a "one-stop shop."
- We help patients find transportation.
- We grieve with families when a patient dies and frequently a staff member will attend funeral home services."
Community Cancer Center South
At the new Community Cancer Center South (CCCS) there are 16 private infusion rooms, an onsite lab and imaging facilities. CCCS offers both medical and radiation oncology, including the new TrueBeam™ system for external beam radiation therapy. Eight-hour shifts are available. Current hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Nurses at south may “float” to help cover north and east locations as needed and possible, which offers a variety of educational opportunities. Nurses may choose to work at CCCS because it is a new center that offers the opportunity to work in an outpatient area that delivers continuity of patient care. One staff member notes, "The staff like working in a small unit where everyone works together for the betterment of patient care. It is a very collaborative team of nurses, administrators, pharmacists, social service staff, medical staff, and volunteers."
Exceptional patient experience
Nurses here are very involved in the "Look Good Feel Better" program. This program helps patients who may have lost their hair, etc., feel pampered and “pretty.” CCCS nurses have gone the extra mile to assure a patient had the appropriate bed needed at home. They also take pride in knowing every patient by name and knowing about their families and friends as well.