A Model Oncology Nurse at the Helm

Patients quickly bond with Tiffany Beeler Vaughan, B.S.N., RN because they sense her strong empathy and compassion toward them, traits that are difficult to teach.

As a third-year patient with cancer at UK Markey Cancer Center, I’m pleased to nominate Tiffany Beeler Vaughan, B.S.N., RN, Dr. Reema Patel’s clinical nurse, for the Extraordinary Healer® Award.

In my eyes, she is an extraordinary nurse because of her concern for patients and their needs, her knowledge of the oncology and nursing fields, her ability to work through the maze that is University of Kentucky HealthCare, her sense of responsibility and willingness to take the appropriate initiative, and her skill in coordinating her unit’s mission and maintaining its equilibrium.

Ms. Vaughn is her ship’s helmsman — the vital cog in the wheel. It is obvious to patients that Ms. Vaughn and Dr. Patel share a deep trust, one that allows the latter to teach, conduct research and tend to patients simultaneously. When Dr. Patel is away and I need something, Ms. Vaughn always proves to be most resourceful.

Most important is Ms. Vaughn’s knowledge of her patients. Not only is she a keen observer, but she also gets to know each of us to the degree that she is aware of our backgrounds, our personal needs and desires, our idiosyncrasies and our medical situations. Patients quickly bond with her because they sense her strong empathy and compassion toward them, traits that are difficult to teach.

Moreover, Ms. Vaughn gets things done promptly. A key example occurred late last winter when one morning I fainted at home. Instead of dialing 911 and ending up in the emergency room surrounded by patients with COVID-19, we called Dr. Patel’s office for guidance. Ms. Vaughn instructed us to come to the Oncology Urgent Care Center at Markey. Once there, I was met by several medical staff, thoroughly tested, given an electrocardiogram and assigned a nurse practitioner. Tiffany Vaughn arranged all of this. We were impressed.

Several months ago, I was hospitalized with a strain of E. coli. Its presence was likely a product of my weakened immunity. While there, I received a 10-minute call from Ms. Vaughn. Her intimate knowledge of my case allowed her to assimilate and organize the information I provided and to pass it on to Dr. Patel. The result was a bedside visit from the latter, allowing us to recast and plan the next steps of my treatment.

University of Kentucky HealthCare has more than met our expectations because of staff members such as Tiffany Vaughn. If one could cast a model of an extraordinary oncology nurse, you could do no better than Ms. Vaughan.

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