Specially trained oncology nurses are on the front line in providing personalized medical care at Smilow Cancer Hospital
From Accounting to Nursing
Tanaz Mistry, RN, OCN, moved to the U.S. from her native India in 1993 with a college degree in Accounting. Within a year, however, she decided to become a registered nurse. "This is what I've always wanted to do," Tanaz says. Even before she finished nursing school, Tanaz chose oncology as her specialty. Today, she is an Oncology Certified Nurse at Smilow Cancer Hospital, caring exclusively for patients admitted with one of the major blood cancers — leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma.
Smilow's Hematology Program
Since opening in October 2009, Smilow quickly earned a reputation for its innovative approach to state-of-the-art diagnosis and treatment. Among its 12 dedicated cancer programs, the Hematology Program is making great strides in understanding blood cancers and developing specific therapies. Tanaz is one of many oncology nurses who collaborate with a multidisciplinary team of Hematology specialists.
Playing a Critical Role
Because of the range of services they provide, nurses have the most contact with patients at Smilow. With a newly diagnosed leukemia patient, for example, Tanaz begins by educating him or her, as well as the family, about the treatment she'll administer, which typically includes chemotherapy and/or eventual stem-cell transplantation. "Their anxiety levels are high when they first come in," she explains, "so we teach them in slow, small steps. We don't want to overwhelm them." Inpatient treatment requires several weeks of hospitalization, and patients often return for several rounds. "Every morning, the whole team gathers to review our plan for each patient," Tanaz says. "We're all on the same page."
Providing More than Medical Care
"Because we see patients on a frequent basis, we get to know them not only as patients, but as people," Tanaz observes. "We get to know the family members, too, whom we encourage to be there as often as they like. So I develop both professional and personal relationships with patients, but I don't let my emotions get in the way of doing my best job. And I wouldn't trade this job for anything."