January 15, 2014 -- Congratulations to two Valley nurses, who are forging a new path as the hospital’s first outpatient oncology nursing fellows. Caree Guzman, RN, and Alyssa Duerr Hatler, RN, are piloting a new program that offers Valley RNs an opportunity to become trained in oncology care and chemotherapy delivery, and to provide patient care in the Outpatient Infusion Center at the Blumenthal Cancer Center.
The new Outpatient Oncology Nursing Fellowship Program was developed through a collaboration among Valley’s Blumenthal Cancer Center and the departments of Patient Care Services and Education to meet a need for high-quality specialized care for oncology patients, says Sandy Balentine, RN, MSN, OCN, director of Clinical Oncology.
“As our volume of infusion patients grew, we had difficulty in filling positions for experienced infusion nurses who can administer chemotherapy,” she says. “We modeled our new fellowship program after our successful graduate nurses residency program and posted application information internally to Valley Health System RNs. Our nurses are already familiar with our Valley culture and vision, so this program became another avenue to train our own as we meet a need for specialized cancer care.”
The fellowship is a four-month program developed and managed by Sandy as team leader; interim clinical shift coordinator Valerie Quigley, RN, OCN, as unit resource coordinator; and educator Colleen Bardi, RN. Preceptors for Caree and Alyssa are Outpatient Infusion Center nurses Lindsay Buldo, RN, OCN; Veronica Monroy, RN, OCN; and Cheryl Taylor Butcher, RN, OCN. The program’s curriculum includes daily meetings and weekly summations; journal-keeping; education on cancer, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy; clinical experiences; and tumor conferences. Competencies must be completed following chemotherapy administration and documentation.
The fellows also visit the Valley pharmacy to watch how chemotherapy medications are compounded, and they spend time shadowing the Cancer Center’s physicians and meeting with oncology social workers and clerical staff. They also observe port placements and other surgical procedures in the OR.
“At the completion of the program, our fellows can take the course for a chemotherapy certificate by the national Oncology Nursing Society,” adds Sandy.
Shown here seated, left to right, are: preceptor Lindsay Buldo and infusion fellow Alyssa Duerr Hatler. Shown standing, left to right are: Valerie Quigley, interim clinical shift coordinator, Outpatient Infusion Center; infusion fellow Caree Guzman; Ann Marie Leichman, vice president, Patient Care Services and chief nursing officer; preceptor Veronica Monroy; and Sandy Balentine, director, Clinical Oncology.