The Essence of Oncology Nursing

Extraordinary Healer®Extraordinary Healer Vol. 18
Volume 18

Jessica, a master of the art of nursing, bonds with patients who it can be hard to make connections with.



I am nominating Jessica McDade, B.S.N., RN, OCN, for the CURE Extraordinary Healer Award. Jessica provides exemplary care to her patients and their families and is a supportive colleague. Jessica’s care is a testament to our professional practice model and the tenets of Magnet.

At Dana-Farber Inpatient Hospital, nurses strive to provide exceptional, compassionate, relationship-based care grounded in research, education and advocacy to serve the unique needs of patients and families. Jessica is the embodiment of this mission.

Jessica has been an oncology nurse since 2009. She has grown into an expert oncology nurse over the past 14 years. She is a leader in our department, supporting new-to-practice staff and acting as a resource to experienced staff. Nurses will reach out to Jessica for her guidance with patient care and complex family situations. She has a kind, compassionate way about her, making her very approachable.

Jessica also teaches nursing students in the clinical setting for Simmons University School of Nursing. Her practice is an essence of the professional practice model through her pursuit of excellent patient care, and staff mentoring with her leadership and collaboration skills. She makes connections with her patients and their families, caring for them as if they were her own.

Not every patient comes to us with a storybook life. Many of our patients have faced challenges socially and emotionally. Cancer takes a toll on not only a person’s physical health, but also their mental and emotional health. Our adult hematology/ oncology unit, 6D, recently had a patient with a complex history of opioid use disorder while newly diagnosed with metastatic bladder cancer, causing paralysis. The patient was frustrated, feeling the medical world had judged and failed her. Jessica, a master of the art of nursing, bonds with patients who it can be hard to make connections with. Jessica encircles them with care and kindness. Patients talk to Jessica and share hardships and challenges that were unknown to others. Jessica helped “Kim” get up to a wheelchair, go out with her family and have them participate in her care. She helped Kim’s family cope with her poor prognosis. Jessica taught them how to care for Kim and treat her like a person and not just a patient. Jessica helps patients find their voice and supports the patient during challenging conversations with family members.

Cancer is a difficult journey; patients often feel alone in their struggle. Patients are separated from family and friends during treatment. Jessica goes above and beyond to be with her patients and their families through the course of their treatment. Sadly, Kim passed away. Jessica was with her family, guiding them at the end of her life to say goodbye.

Jessica is dedicated to lifelong learning. She teaches student nurses in a weekly clinical group, and she is enrolling in a nursing master’s degree program in the fall. She is a transformational leader with her knowledge and dedication. She shares her vision for patient care and the patient experience with her colleagues, constantly raising others up to be their best selves.

The inpatient hospital never closes, and there are always patients who need care. Jessica is a mother of three young children, often missing holidays and celebrations to be at work to care for our oncology patients. Jessica is always grateful to be able to be at work during these times and realizes how lucky she is to be able to provide care to patients, and their families, who must be admitted during the holidays. Knowing these may be the last holidays that patients have, she goes above and beyond to make them special. She has arranged for parties and brought in special touches from home to make the hospital environment cozy.

Our patients are so fortunate to have her on our team. I am honored to nominate Jess for the CURE Extraordinary Healer Award.

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