From 1995 to 2010, Fredrica (Ricky) Preston, RNC, NP, AOCN, was the sole nurse practitioner in medical oncology at the Mass General/North Shore Cancer in Danvers, Mass. With great commitment, compassion and knowledge, she quickly established an advanced practice that enables North Shore residents to access exemplary cancer care without traveling to Boston.
Fredrica Preston, NP, honored as part of the one hundred
Fredrica Preston, NP -- being honored this year as part of the one hundred -- explains what it means to be a part of the Cancer Center.
Fredrica (Ricky) Preston, NP, RNC, AOCNNurse Practitioner, Mass General/North Shore Cancer Center
Time at North Shore Cancer Center: 15 years
What influenced your decision to work in health care? Growing up I toyed with the idea of becoming a nurse, but never too seriously. I thought I would become a high school teacher. Then, while on a college tour for my sister, I saw Georgetown and fell in love with it. At that moment I knew I wanted to go there and I was told their nursing program was excellent. Now 36 years later I am still happy with my decision. My senior year faculty advisor was an oncology nurse -- which in 1975 was a rare specialty -- and it was she who got me interested in oncology nursing.
What drew you to the North Shore Cancer Center?
I was thinking of relocating to the North Shore from Philadelphia to be closer to family. It was amazing timing as I had recently attained my NP certification and my sister, Allyson Preston, MD, saw Mass General/North Shore Cancer Center Director Joel Schwartz, MD, in the hall of the hospital and asked if there were any NP openings at the Cancer Center. As luck would have it they were considering creating a new position for an NP and by the end of the summer of 1995 I became the first NP at the Cancer Center.
What is your favorite part of working here? My favorite part is definitely the staff. It has been a privilege to work with a group of people who are so dedicated to providing compassionate, high quality care to patients and their families. I came here from an academic setting and at first was a little worried of how community practice would be. It was clear within a few days that the level of care provided by all of the staff was as good if not better than that in academic settings. There is a close feeling working within a community setting as your patients may be your friends, neighbors or even your relatives. Obviously, this has its own set of challenges but I have found it helps provide some insight and perspective on how their cancer effects them as "people' rather then just "patients".
Do you have any advice for those dealing with cancer or their caregivers?Don't be afraid to ask for help. Often times people want to help but don't know what to do, so unless you want a freezer full of lasagna it helps to be specific in what your needs are. Remember that you are unique, as is your response to treatment; try not to compare yourself to others. It is great to be informed, but the amount of literature out there can be overwhelming and often confusing. Try to stay as active during treatment as you can; exercise helps you emotionally and physically. This is true for patients as well as their caregivers
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