The Real Boss of the Pulmonary Medicine Oncology Clinic

Extraordinary Healer®, Extraordinary Healer® Vol. 15, Volume 15,

A doctor describes a nurse’s ability to make his job rewarding and efficient, which he said can be a rare quality in a partner.

Amy Nibaur, RN, is the nurse clinician coordinator for the pulmonary oncology clinic at Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. I have worked with Amy for many years and have watched her grow into her position directing a team of pulmonary physicians as we evaluate patients with symptoms or chest imaging concerning for lung cancer.

This can be the most anxiety-provoking phase of the patient’s journey, as they are ushered through an evaluation that includes many different scans and biopsies before a diagnosis is reached and referral for treatment made. Amy has found a reassuring style that helps put people at ease during the upfront “unknown” phase, when the patient's understanding of what a CT or PET scan means is often very different from what the referring provider may have communicated. She provides unwavering support for their emotional needs during the testing period, when results never seem to come in fast enough. Her years of working as part of a multidisciplinary team in the cancer center then facilitates a seamless move to the treatment phase and the transition to a new care team.

All the while, she does this with a smile and relentless dedication to her work despite having to shepherd a handful of physicians who always seem to have something else competing for their attention, makes herding cats seem simple, by comparison. Whether its reminding us about a patients upcoming surgery date, suggesting local restaurants for after clinic visit recharging before a long trip home, or drawing attention to a familiar name in a local newspaper obituary, Amy has a true wide angle lens on the practice, with no detail too small, no concern too minor.

I have been doing this for over 30 years, and it is the rare partner who single-handedly makes the job efficient, rewarding, and worth coming in for every day. Amy is just such a coworker and deserves recognition for her extraordinary effort and dedication.

Editor’s Note: This is an essay submitted by Dr. Thomas Gross for the 2021 Extraordinary Healer Award. Click here to read more about CURE®’s Extraordinary Healer® Award for Oncology Nursing event on April 30, 2021.

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