An Extraordinary Healer essay honoring PATRICIA L. TUDOR, B.S.N., RN [HOSPITAL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA, PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA]
Stuart Kremer, D.O., and Patricia L. Tudor, B.S.N., RN - PHOTOS BY PARIKHA MEHTA
This is a story about Patricia L. Tudor, RN, seen through the eyes of a physician with cancer. I believe this provides a unique perspective into Patricia’s abilities on a variety of levels, including technical skills, management skills, patient interaction, as well as peer-to-peer relationships. This is particularly insightful in light of my experience, having worked very closely with a multitude of nurses over the course of 28 years.
Following a diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia requiring immediate hospitalization, chemotherapy and, ultimately, stem cell transplant, I required outpatient follow-up with infusion therapy, and was assigned an oncology nurse to attend to my needs. Fortunately for me, Patricia Tudor, affectionately known by her friends, peers and patients as “Trish,” came into my life. How lucky I was to have this wonderful, spirited, warm, kind and compassionate woman with a great sense of humor to help me get through the most difficult time of my life!
We began the journey together upon my arrival home. I felt comfortable with her from the moment we met and, oh, what a relief, since I really did not know what to expect! I will never forget the first conversation we had. She sat down and, very calmly, with determination, did her initial evaluation. She was very professional, yet easygoing at the same time, which made me feel more comfortable. She confronted my cancer and associated issues with a straightforward and honest approach. How refreshing! She changed my PICC line dressing, drew blood for labs and hooked me up to my infusion, explaining things along the way. Having had personal experience in the medical field, I could tell that she had technical expertise, and this also made me feel better. In addition, I was struck by the fact that she had another nurse with her who was being trained under her tutelage. I subsequently learned that Trish frequently was a preceptor for new nurses, obviously because of her knowledge and experience. In addition, she has multiple certifications in techniques relative to cancer care, and always keeps current within the oncology nursing realm.
I required frequent visits early on, and I found myself actually looking forward to Trish coming to take care of my oncologic needs. We subsequently had many discussions on all kinds of topics. Over a period of time, I got to know Trish very well. She was inspiring, nurturing and a wonderful advocate, as well. It was clear to me that she was a very special, unique individual whose personality and skills were perfect for a nurse dealing with oncology patients. And what a fabulous sense of humor. No matter how rotten I felt (and it was quite often), I always had a smile on my face by the time Trish left the house.
She has multiple long-standing relationships with former patients and, in some instances, took it upon herself to provide support as needed beyond the direct responsibility of her job. I also learned that she has received multiple awards and honors for nursing excellence in nurse, patient and family relationships; employee of the month; and patient recognition for superlative care.
Trish has also expressed interest in continuing education. She attends conferences and courses, and has maintained certification in the procedures necessary for her role as an oncology infusion nurse. She has always expressed a craving for more knowledge, and is currently enrolled in a master’s degree program with the goal of becoming a nurse practitioner.
I feel incredibly lucky to have been fortunate enough to have Trish accompany me on my journey from cancer diagnosis through chemotherapy, transplantation and complications, and now back to a reasonable degree of health. Her physical, emotional and spiritual support was every bit as important as my cancer treatment to get me through a very difficult time. I am happy for the rest of her patients, as I know that they all receive the same kind, compassionate care that I experienced