Healing Patients with Cancer on Small and Large Scales

July 20, 2019

Nominee for CURE®’s 2019 Extraordinary Healer® award, oncology nurse Megan Roy’s insight is valued and trusted by both patients and her team, making care processes smooth no matter whether she worked directly with patients or not.

When I think of Megan Roy, B.S.N., RN, OCN, RN-BC, I think of the ultimate teammate: a nurse I’m eternally grateful to have on our team and, more importantly, that patients have as part of their team. Her knowledge, enthusiasm and leadership are unmatched and so valued by our navigation team, patients and providers. Her attitude and energy lift and motivate us. She sets the example.

Arguably, her influence on healing is both on the micro and macro level. Megan joined our team in 2015 as a thoracic oncology nurse navigator. In three years, she has worked with thousands of patients while providing individual attention to one patient/family at a time.

Megan is often the first person they speak with at Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center, and she meets them where they are in the process to facilitate next steps in care. As a navigator, Megan receives referrals at any point on the care continuum. It may be upon a suspicious scan or somewhere down the line, when a patient needs additional options. Her promptness and assessment skills allow her to triage patients to appropriate providers efficiently, accurately and promptly. She’s such a hard worker that she’s been known to miss her train home because she took that last call to help a patient or family member.

From left: Eleanor Miller, M.S.N., RN, OCN, CBCN, and Megan Roy, B.S.N., RN, OCN, RN-BC. Photos by Konnor J Durante.

Megan has a contagious energy, but she is equally patient. At times, her patients need things coordinated and then re-coordinated due to a hospitalization or change of plan or if multiple family members have differing opinions or concerns. She is able to assess and resolve individual needs but also take a step back to look at the larger picture and help that patient or family get organized without spinning her (or their) wheels.

She is well connected to her entire thoracic team, which spans multiple locations in our region. Her awareness of the logistical factors and operations at each site enables her to facilitate coordinated access to care so patients can see the providers they need to initiate a plan in the necessary time frame. She is a frequent resource when our other navigators, staff and providers across the health system must solve a problem with a case or get patients what they need. Her insight is valued and trusted by both patients and her team, making care processes smooth no matter whether she worked directly with patients or not. We all trust her guidance and judgment.

She is able to couple this individual care with larger initiatives to better the patient experience, whether that means participating in pathway development, developing a lung cancer-specific scheduling intake or assuming responsibility for the same-day appointment line. Over the past year, she has co-developed our navigation journal club and served as Penn’s captain for the Philadelphia Free to Breathe 5K.

Megan’s can-do attitude, patience and eagerness to help are influential on our team of navigators. She is always willing to help cover another navigator’s shift, work out the problems with a tough case or participate in a project to make a process smoother. Often, she’s the one thinking of the project or sharing her insight.

This fall, her roles as navigator and teammate merged as Megan was able to navigate and assist our teammate’s husband in enrolling in a clinical trial at the National Institutes of Health. She does not normally work with this disease site, but she recognized the need for quick action and the opportunity to help. Not only did she help compile the information the NIH needed and offer support to our teammate and caregiver, but she also helped organize a care package as a send-off and then jumped in to help by spending time with their 12-year-old child.

Megan’s healing influence reaches further than she realizes. By being a teammate that patients and her colleagues can rely on, she influences a culture that creates the space to be focused, engaged and prepared, decreasing the anxiety, uncertainty and overall stress that a cancer diagnosis can cause. Although she has a direct impact on patients daily, the effort and positive attitude she maintains with our team further influence patient care without her even knowing it. Because of her effort, patients are better off, and we as colleagues are better able to give our best selves to patients. If that’s not a sign of an extraordinary healer (and leader), I don’t know what is.


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