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My nursing journey

By Diane Sincavage, RN, OCN, CCRN

They call us older nurses “seasoned.” During my 35 years in the profession, I have worked in staff and clinical coordinator roles in medical, surgical and neuro adult critical care and have served on various nursing committees. When the hospital where I was working was heading toward closure, I moved to Philadelphia, where my children lived and where there were many hospitals from which I could choose.

Who wouldn’t want me with all of my experience? Within six months, I had applied for every job that appeared online and didn’t hear back from anyone. It felt like no one wanted me.

A position at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America appeared online, and after phone conversations and interviews, I was offered a night position on a med/surg unit. I knew I needed to begin learning about oncology. I passed the chemo-biology course and offered to give chemotherapy whenever I could. I kept studying and realized that no two patients with cancer are the same. They might have the same treatment protocols but each reacts quite differently. I also realized I needed to take one patient and family at a time.

In about a year I transferred to the ICU. That’s where I met Stephanie, one of the smartest people I know. She suggested we take the Oncology Nursing Certification exam. Back to studying again. I took every online Oncology Nursing Society class including the OCN review course, and I passed the OCN exam. It felt good — no, it felt great!

Soon after, our educator informed me the facility was opening a stem cell transplant unit. When she asked if I would be interested in being part of the staff training program, I jumped at the opportunity. I participated in the facility’s series of classes, visited the CTCA Chicago transplant unit for a few days and took an online bone marrow transplant course. I began working on the unit as soon as it opened.

I’ve been there for 1 1/2 years now. I am amazed at the chemotherapy we give our patients, and how they are so sick one day and then able to walk a mile a day around the unit soon after. We love our patients and they love us. There always is something new to learn and it’s fun. I am proud to say I teach a class on the caring for oncology patients  that we offer to our new nurses.

So today I am an oncology nurse. Often our professional journeys are long ones — mine has been more than 40 years. And I’ve never regretted any of the decisions I made to change roles, positions or facilities.

There are so many opportunities if you look for them. It may mean starting over in a new specialty and being that “new nurse” again. But please realize you always learn so much more and become a better nurse for it. I’m not afraid to ask younger nurses I work with for help and I’m always willing to share what I know. And that’s what our journey is all about, whether you’re fresh out of school or a seasoned nurse.

Diane Sincavage, RN, OCN, CCRN, is a staff nurse on the stem cell transplant unit at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Philadelphia.

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By | 2015-11-19T16:50:45-05:00 May 12th, 2015|Categories: Nurses stories, Your Stories|1 Comment

About the Author:

Sallie Jimenez
Sallie Jimenez is content manager for healthcare for Nurse.com published by Relias. She develops and edits content for the Nurse.com blog, which covers industry news and trends in the nursing profession and healthcare. She also develops content for the Nurse.com Digital Editions. She has more than 24 years of healthcare journalism, content marketing and editing experience.

One Comment

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    Rita A. November 21, 2015 at 7:40 pm - Reply

    Such a great story! Thank you for sharing.

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