Dedication, Achievement and Grace in Cancer Care

In a field populated by highly skilled and deeply compassionate nursing oncology professionals, Kathryn Buttner, B.S.N., RN, BMTCN, stands out, a co-worker said.

In a field populated by highly skilled and deeply compassionate nursing oncology professionals, Kathryn Buttner, B.S.N., RN, BMTCN, director of stem cell transplant and cellular therapy at the John Theurer Cancer Center, stands out by fulfilling her role with unique dedication, significant achievement and abundant grace.

Beginning as a staff nurse in stem cell transplant at Hackensack University Medical Center in 1999, Kate identified oncology and bone marrow transplant as areas of focus very early in her career while working with a 94-year-old patient during an oncology rotation and then with a 22-year-old patient. Though they were in opposite stages of life, she was inspired by each patient’s hope and determination and was motivated to meet their needs with cutting-edge technology and innate empathy.

As she sees it, “Oncology patients give back more than you can ever give to them. It makes you want to move mountains to help them in any way you can.”

A natural team builder focused on collaboration, Kate is passionate about facilitating excellent patient care and is adept at designing and implementing policies and procedures to ensure this. She is quick to credit her team. “In leadership, in everything I do, it’s about the staff around me. They’re with me every moment of the day to achieve what we achieve,” she says.

Kate has been instrumental in operationalizing key initiatives, including helping start an onsite cellular therapy lab to provide CAR-T cell therapy to patients and pivoting during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the rapid creation of a high-titer convalescent plasma program while simultaneously sustaining the existing program. To this end, she is involved in updating a 12-chapter handbook for patients on bone marrow transplant.

Kate treats others as she would want to be treated, including team members and patients. Her work is centered on making sure they have the best experience possible, working with staff members every day to make sure they’re on the same page and doing the most they can do for their patients by giving them the respect they deserve and the dignity they need.

I have always had great admiration for Kate’s ability to lead so many people in different disciplines with such professionalism. I recently transitioned into a new role and have had the great pleasure of closely witnessing how much responsibility actually falls directly onto her plate.

Kate has the unique gift of being able to develop true relationships with her team. Her door is always open, and she is available to everyone on an individual basis and personal level. It has been one of the great honors of my nursing career to work with and learn from Kate.

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