Residency program for oncology research nurses eases transition to second career

Suzanne Phillips enjoyed 26 years working for Dow Chemical Co., much of that time as a researcher in product development. It was a thrill to see packaging that her team had developed on the shelf of her local grocery store. But a desire to directly impact people, specifically cancer patients, was calling her. That aspiration led her to nursing school and, ultimately, to her work as a research nurse resident, learning how to help patients on clinical trials in our Lymphoma and Myeloma department. Attract, develop, retain the best oncology research nurses Phillips is a participant in a new Research Nurse Residency Program – the first of its kind in the nation – launched at MD Anderson in October 2016. The program is open to new nursing graduates or nurses with less than one year of experience. They don’t need to be embarking on second careers, but the program is drawing the interest of nurses like Phillips. The goal of the program, modeled after our successful Clinical Nurse Residency Program, is to attract, develop and retain research nurses. The residency consists of a four-week orientation phase followed by a 12-month residency program within a department. It includes more than two weeks of classroom learning throughout the year. “A vital role” for patients in clinical trials Research nurses play a vital role for the 9,400 patients enrolled in MD Anderson’s more than 1,000 clinical trials. “Being a research nurse is a very hard job,’’ says Lore Lagrone, administrative director, protocol research, Lymphoma and Myeloma. “It’s like a big jigsaw puzzle. Your satisfaction comes from making all the pieces fit.” “The...