Oncology Nursing

Oncology nurses at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center take pride in the delivery of compassionate care in an evolving health care environment.

Oncology Nursing

Mission StatementOncology nurses at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center take pride in the delivery of compassionate care in an evolving health care environment. Patients and their families are the primary focus of our practice.

As integral members of a multidisciplinary team, nurses provide the balance between innovative, expert treatment and personalized care. We are committed to maintaining the highest professional standards and continue to keep abreast of the latest treatments and technologies through research, certification, and life long learning. We foster the ongoing development of our colleagues through mentorship and peer support.

Oncology nurses at the Cancer Center value an environment that respects diversity, enhances quality of life, and preserves human dignity. Nurses in the Cancer Center provide:

  • Care for patients in all phases of diagnosis and treatment.
  • We collaborate closely with your doctor, nurse practitioner, physical therapist, occupational therapist, dietitian, social worker, pharmacist, and chaplain to provide comprehensive, individualized care during your treatment journey.
  • We strive to provide expert nursing care to maximize health, enhance quality of life, relieve suffering, and provide education and support to patients and their families.
  • Our role in patient care is multidisciplinary, actively assisting and supporting patients during diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, administering chemotherapy, providing perioperative care, closely monitoring patients for changes in health status, and coordinating discharge planning.
  • Nurses work in both inpatient and outpatient settings and in multiple specialty areas including medical oncology, surgical oncology, radiation oncology, bone marrow transplant, gynecologic oncology, pediatric oncology, infusion, the outpatient clinics, and research and protocol development.
  • We contribute to the total patient care effort in our various roles of staff nurse, nurse practitioner, case manager clinical nurse specialist, IV nurse, nurse manager, and nurse researcher
  • We maintain certifications in the implementation of specialized treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, IV therapy, and blood transfusion.

Massachusetts General Hospital offers a rich environment

  • Professional development is an important aspect of the nursing practice experience. The Patient Care Services Clinical Recognition Program facilitates movement along the novice-to-expert continuum.
  • Qualified staff nurses earn promotional recognition as Advanced Clinicians or Clinical Scholars for demonstration of expert knowledge, skill, and judgment. We actively participate in the larger hospital, local, and national community of nurses, sharing the evolving body of knowledge that supports excellent nursing practice.
  • We participate in the Patient Care Services Collaborative Governance as well as multidisciplinary practice committees, thereby providing meaningful input into policies and decisions, which affect patient care and the quality of professional life. We regularly attend courses to increase our knowledge of complex, cutting-edge treatment modalities, present scholarly works at in-house meetings, local programs, and national conventions, and we are involved with independent and collaborative research initiatives. The Cancer Center actively supports pursuit of advanced degrees and independent research projects.

How We Make A DifferenceAs nurses at the Cancer Center, we are committed to maximizing quality of life, enhancing autonomy, and making sure our patients feel cared for and cared about. We work together to provide continuity of care, facilitate seamless transition from one treatment area to another, and establish ongoing resources for our patients and their families following discharge.

Oncology Nurses & Their Roles

  • Nurse Practitioners work in partnership with your doctors to manage your care
  • Clinical Nurse Specialists
  • Oncology Case Managers are nurses who organize your care at home when or if needed
  • Nursing Leadership and Managers
  • Oncology Nurses work together to coordinate and provide care for you
  • Research Nurses/Clinical Research Coordinators coordinate the care that is involved if you decide to join a research study.

What is a Nurse Practitioner?Nurse Practitioners (NPs) begin their training by becoming registered nurses (RNs) and continue their education by earning a Master’s Degree in Nursing. An RN might have worked for years before going back to school and therefore has a wealth of practical experience in nursing. After completing the Master’s Degree, they choose an area of medicine or a specific disease category in which they specialize.

Your NP will have specialized in oncology (cancer). Additionally, a nurse practitioner must take national examinations to become Board certified, and subsequently licensed by the State Board of Nursing. They practice under the rules and regulations of the state in which they work. NPs have been treating patients for over four decades, providing safe, cost-effective and quality health care.

What does a Nurse practitioner do? Nurse Practitioners work in collaboration with oncology doctors at the Cancer Center. For instance, you might see your NP for a follow-up visit, or an urgent care visit. Your NP can work with you to manage symptoms of your disease or treatment. Your NP can be a liaison for you for the rest of the health care team to make sure you receive the best care possible. Your NP will probably join you and your doctor for consultation visits to discuss the course of your cancer treatment. Be assured your doctor and your NP will be in constant touch about your care.

Your NP has the training and the experience to provide any of the following

  • Obtain a health history
  • Perform physical examinations
  • Order and interpret diagnostic tests (e.g. x-rays, blood test)
  • Prescribe medications
  • Manage symptoms
  • Perform various procedures (such as bone marrow biopsy)
  • Monitor health status
  • Teach and counsel patients
  • Collaborate with doctors and other health care providers
  • Refer to doctors or other specialists

Professional DevelopmentWe welcome new graduate nurses to our team and support them through a twelve-month professional development program focused on the nursing care of oncology patients.

Oncology Nursing Career Development AwardThe 2008 Oncology Nursing Career Development Award was presented on Thursday, June 26, 2008 to Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center registered nurse Lorraine Drapek, NP. The award recognizes a staff nurse who consistently demonstrates excellence in delivering care to patients with cancer, serves as a role model to others, and has a commitment to professional development.

The Friends of the Mass General Hospital Cancer Center have funded the annual award since 1989. The Friends of the Mass General Hospital Cancer Center is a volunteer organization dedicated to providing comfort, support, education and amenities for patients, their families and friends. Ginny Durfee, President of the Friends of Mass General Cancer Center, presented Drapek with a signed plaque and a one thousand dollar award, which will be used by Drapek for professional development opportunities.

Drapek has been a devoted nurse for over thirty years and has worked at Mass General Hospital for five years in the radiation oncology department.