‘Special Kind of Person to Be an Oncology Nurse’

Extraordinary Healer®, Extraordinary Healer® Vol. 15, Volume 15,

One colleague describes her fellow nurse as someone who puts patients at ease during treatment.

I have heard people say many times, “It takes a special kind of person to be an oncology nurse.” I have to agree. I have had the honor of working with some of the best nurses I could ever hope for. Stephanie Bisignano, RN, RN-BC, is not only an extraordinary nurse, she exemplifies that “special kind of person” as an oncology nurse.

Stephanie began working in oncology in 2016, and it quickly became who she was. It seems this is where she was meant to be. The patients Stephanie cares for in our outpatient infusion unit all remark on how she seems to put them at ease during one of the worst days of their lives. One patient recalls that, “She cheered me up every time I came for treatment. She made me laugh,” he said. “I don't think I went one day without laughing.” This was said by a patient who almost turned around and walked out on his first day, yet Stephanie made him laugh throughout his treatment.

Many have commented about how she listens to them and answers any question even if they have asked the same question multiple times. Stephanie takes the time to answer the question and explains it in a way they understand. One gentleman asked of Stephanie, “How come the fancy doctors in the big hospitals in New York can't explain it the way you do?”

Stephanie is not just simply a kind and caring person. She is a relentless patient advocate. She utilizes her high reliability training to ensure the best care for her patients. It was Stephanie's questioning attitude that lead to the discovery of three bilateral blood clots in a patient's arm who had been complaining of pain with each IV that was placed in his arm during treatment. Although each IV was verified for blood return, Stephanie knew in her gut that it was something else, stopped the line until the doctor ordered a bilateral ultrasound and the cause was identified.

Stephanie recently assisted in finding a physician that best met the needs of a patient who spoke Spanish. The patient had expressed over several visits that she thought that there was something wrong with her urinary stents and that the doctor was not listening to her. The patient asked for assistance in finding a new doctor. Stephanie found her a Spanish-speaking physician with whom the patient was able to accurately communicate her concerns. The patient has undergone surgery and is no longer in the daily discomfort she once was.

When you are a nurse, you know what good nursing is. If you are lucky, you get to work with great nurses. I believe the greatest complement a nurse could receive is when a fellow nurse says, “I would want you to take care of me or my family.” That is Stephanie. She is the nurse that other nurses would want caring for them, advocating for them and ensuring the best care possible.

I enthusiastically nominate Stephanie for the 2021 Extraordinary Healer® Award.

Editor’s Note: This is an essay submitted by Sarah Manning for the 2021 Extraordinary Healer Award. Click here to read more about CURE®’s Extraordinary Healer® Award for Oncology Nursing event on April 30, 2021.

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