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Spotlight on Self-Care: Fresh Ideas to Refresh Oncology Nurses

By Mike Hennessy, Sr.
Mike Hennessy

OncLive Chairman,
Mike Hennessy

In this magazine, we often report on the outstanding and compassionate care that oncology nurses provide to patients and their families, but it’s also important to highlight the care that these dedicated professionals need to provide to themselves.

Estimates are that 16% to 39% of registered nurses may experience compassion fatigue, and those practicing in the oncology setting are especially vulnerable to feeling stressed and overwhelmed. It’s not enough, however, to simply identify the problem; we need to find solutions to support nurses, and who better to come up with these ideas than nurses themselves?

In our cover story this month, we talk with nurses about the solutions that they have found most beneficial for self-care, including specific “antibodies” to compassion fatigue and how one creative nurse was determined to find a space where her colleagues could go for just a few minutes to completely switch off and come back to the floor recharged.

As the director of Patient Care Services at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Midwestern Regional Medical Center noted in one of our interviews for the article, “If you want to provide an environment of healing and hope to your patients and families, you also have to provide that kind of environment to your employees.” We couldn’t agree more. Nurses need the right professional support to carry out the role that they perform so well, day in and day out.

It’s not really surprising then, that year after year, these dedicated professionals are ranked as the most trusted profession, a point underscored by Susan Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, when we sat down with her recently at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Princeton, New Jersey, where she is Director of Nursing. Hassmiller also directs the nationwide Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, and in her thoughtful reflections on the profession’s challenges, she reminds us how the ever-changing landscape of healthcare offers nurses unique opportunities to practice to the full extent of their training and participate actively in multidisciplinary efforts to improve patient care.

Also in this issue, two expert nurses practicing in the radiation oncology program at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida, provide an update on considerations for nurses when treating the growing numbers of patients diagnosed with HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers.

We look forward to reporting on these important issues and more at the Oncology Nursing Society’s 41st Annual Congress later this month in San Antonio. Look for our coverage in the next issue of Oncology Nursing News and online today.

In the meantime, as always, thank you for reading.
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