Celebrating oncology nursing


The sixth celebration of the Extraordinary Healer Award For Oncology Nursing was held tonight with a New Orleans style Mardi Gras band, beads, and a festive spirit to match. The room was full this year as word has grown about this event, which has one goal, to celebrate nurses for the amazing job they do for their patients. The essays we receive from readers point it out over and over as they pay tribute to the men and women who go above and beyond to bring healing to their patients -- whether or not cure is possible. We publish the winning essay in the summer issue, just as we will this year, but I wish we could somehow let you read all of them. Of course, that would mean publishing all 1,200 we have received in the last six years. We do put a good sampling in a book each year that we hand out, but I wanted to give the nurses a better sense of what patients say about them. So this year I read the nurses a job description that I created that I think captures the essence of what I have determined would be the job description for the oncology nurse who is a composite of the qualities listed in the essays we read. Here it is:Seeking Oncology Nurse:Requirements: A highly skilled nurse who approaches the job with joy – and finds fulfillment spending days and nights amid the pain and despair of cancer patients.Candidates should be able to demonstrate the ability to be a loving friend while dispensing the most difficult of treatments, and stand with pride as a warrior advocate for his or her patients, many of whom cannot speak for themselves. He or she must be an accomplished teacher, one filled with compassion and courage – who has the patience of Job and the wisdom of the ages. In addition to nursing degrees, degrees in psychology and divinity also required – as is background that includes politics and the practice of magic. Must enjoy long hours, little pay, paperwork and body fluids.Prior experience as an angel a plus. Next came our fabulous speaker and honorary mistress of ceremonies, Diahann Carroll. Actress, singer, and breast cancer survivor, she clearly had inspired more than one nurse in the room to join the nursing profession in her ground breaking role as Julia in 1968. The role was the first ever where an African American woman starred in a network television series and Diahann pointed out that it depicted a Black woman with a professional degree. And, it turns out that Mary Gullatte, PhD,RN,AOCN,FAAN , the vice president for patient services at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, who will be inducted on Saturday as the new president of ONS, was one of those inspired by Julia to join the nursing profession. It was our pleasure to bring these two wonderful women together for a photo.

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