Faces of Oncology Care: Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants
The oncology team members at the Northwell Health Cancer Institute provide cancer care to more New Yorkers than any other health care provider. And with so many patients trusting the Northwell Health Cancer Institute for their treatments, our advanced clinical providers are helping make a difference on a large scale. Our nurse practitioners and physician assistants aren’t just helping our patients survive, they’re helping them thrive.
Meet some of our advanced clinical providers below and hear what makes them passionate about working in oncology care.
Working at Northwell for more than 20 years, Keara has dedicated more than half of those to oncology care. As a PA, she embraces the fact that she has the opportunity to change lives of those facing a cancer diagnosis.
“I’m no different from everyone else,” she says. “Cancer touched my life at a young age when my grandfather battled and eventually lost his life due to metastatic colon cancer. That experience changed me in a way that would shape my life.”
Being a PA allows Keara to not only deliver care to her patients, but to be there for them: “In addition to being a part of fascinating scientific discoveries, I am able to ease a patient’s fear and give them hope. I bring smiles, comfort, compassion, hugs and even laughter back into their world. We treat cancer like a chronic illness, not a terminal illness.”
Having worked in oncology outside of Northwell, Keara knows there’s no place like Northwell. “I saw firsthand how differently we care for our patients and their families through unparalleled compassion, empathy and genuine concern. I have had the opportunity to work alongside some of the most wonderful nurses, doctors, and support staff I could have ever hoped for.”
Jennie Hernandez has worked at Northwell for four years at the Monter Cancer Center where she specializes in gynecologic medical oncology.
For Jennie, choosing oncology as her specialty was clear. “I always knew I would end up working in oncology,” she says. “There are a lot of exciting advancements being made and I want to be part of finding a cure for cancer.”
At Northwell, Jennie feels empowered as part of a close team that is always researching and going the extra mile to provide patients with the best care and treatment options. “Working here has helped me develop into the PA I have always wanted to be. The opportunities to help patients with the resources we have are endless and we continue to do more.”
It’s not just innovative treatments and research that makes her job worth it, but the people. In a specialty that can be emotionally difficult, Jennie finds the relationships she develops with her patients are what makes her job so special. “I could not imagine doing anything else because of the relationships I get to create with my patients and their families,” she says. “I feel like they are my family. It’s a close relationship that helps us both get through every day to make the next day an even better one.”
Starting her Northwell career as a nurse in the MICU at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) in 2011, Eva McLoughlin made the decision to return to school to become an NP.
The intricacy of bone marrow transplants piqued her interest in oncology and brought her to Monter Cancer Center after she graduated. There she works delivering care on the bone marrow transplant team: “As an NP on the bone marrow transplant team, I am able to help ensure patients have the best quality of life in their time of need.”
Eva takes pride in the fact that her actions are able to change not only a patient’s condition but their outlook. “Every day I have the opportunity to influence a patient’s life in a positive way,” she says.
With 11 years of nursing experience in breast and gynecologic cancer, Elena Palau knows the difference advanced clinical providers can make for their patients. Starting her career as a registered nurse, Elena is now the supervising nurse practitioner at Monter.
“Oncology is a dynamic practice,” says Elena. “It is difficult for the family and patient undergoing treatment and its related side effects but what is gratifying is that with excellent treatments, you may see the patient’s disease respond.”
At Monter, she finds it rewarding to work with the entire oncology care team: “I work with excellent oncologists, nurses and administrative leaders who value my work, opinion, and leadership commitment. To her the most important part of oncology care is, of course, her patients. “It’s important to make the patients understand that you care and to hear what they are saying. As an NP, I can offer clinical help and it’s very rewarding when treatment is successful.”
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