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Debi Fischer is a nurse at the University of Miami surgical oncology step down unit. Prior to that she worked in orthopedics and neurology for many years. In addition to her nursing experience, she has earned a master’s degree in social work. Becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker was a lon-sought-after goal which she finally attained. She is a caregiver for her family and her dogs as well.

3 Things That Inspire Me at Work

Being an oncology nurse is not always an easy job, but here are 3 things that keep me inspired.
Three 3 things that inspire me at work, are the support I get from my co-workers, the resilience of my patients, and the advantages of working in a teaching hospital.

Co-worker Support 

In my practice setting, the surgical oncology step down unit, I see patients waking up after surgery with an ostomy, their bodies changed forever. Finding out that a patient’s cancer has metastasized makes me feel sad and I wonder about how life can be so cruel. When new scans and biopsies reveal that a patient’s cancer has spread, you realize that it takes a special kind of nurse to do this job. Working on this unit is not for the faint of heart. You must be a tough cookie, as the saying goes, and able to withstand the devastating losses these patients endure. To say that this backdrop is suitable for every nurse would not be accurate. Patients receiving blood transfusions and total parenteral nutrition are commonplace scenarios every night. My coworkers and I support each other by listening to each other vent about difficult situations. They are able to endure long shifts with constant calls from patients who are facing terminal illness. I have tried to incorporate their caring attitude into my care also. We often have long-term patients with multiple physical and emotional needs. Therefore, we take turns with difficult patient care assignments. 
Patient Resilience 

I often see patients with stage IV cancer. My patients’ resilience frequently surprises and impresses me. Prior to working on this unit, I thought that a cancer diagnosis signaled the end. But patients have shown me that on the contrary, it is possible to return to college or go back to work during and after cancer treatment. My patients are determined to fight and stay optimistic. Many do plan for the future. Seeing these patients has inspired me to keep trying to find solutions to my own challenges. I have learned that we can bounce back from adversity. I try to apply the “one-day-at-a-time” mindset to my life as well. 

A Learning Environment 

Working in a teaching hospital has its advantages, and that also inspires me. The fact that I have on-site support from a doctor 24/7 is invaluable. I have encountered residents who will insert IVs and place nasogastric tubes for decompression on busy nights. In my experience, the chances of this happening in a non-teaching hospital would be slim to none. Working in a teaching hospital give me continued learning opportunities every night. The residents work as a team with the nurses which motivate them to provide better care. The surgical resident is only a phone call and an elevator ride away. 

I have been an RN for a long time. My mind is at ease with the knowledge that these 3 things
are available to me at work and serve as my inspiration.

Talk about this article with nurses and others in the oncology community in the General Discussions Oncology Nursing News discussion group.
More from Debi Fischer, MSW, BSN, BA, LCSW, RN
Cancer care and the information around it has moved online. 
PUBLISHED: Wed August 19 2020
Besides Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok to link them to the outside world, there are also cancer websites specifically geared for younger patients with cancer.
PUBLISHED: Mon June 29 2020
Your patient had a mastectomy and chemotherapy and is recovering on the post-op surgical oncology unit. She has 1 or 2 JPs (Jackson Pratt’s) which are drained on a prn basis and a surgical bra. The physical part of her recovery is in progress, but what about body image issues?
PUBLISHED: Fri June 19 2020
All too often, I get off the elevator to work on the surgical oncology acute care unit and am witness to an increasingly familiar scene.
PUBLISHED: Mon April 01 2019
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