Alpha Chi Members Participate in the Summer 2016 Susan D. Flynn Fellowship

Katie McGaughey, CSON 2017 and Emily McClure pictured with Fred Flynn

In honor of his wife, Susan D. Flynn who passed away of ovarian cancer in 2013, Mr. Fred Flynn created the Susan D. Flynn Oncology Nursing Fellowship Program for incoming college nursing seniors who are dedicated to a future career in oncology. The goals of the program include stimulating career interest in the various oncology fields, as well as creating further professional development for senior nursing students. Through the program, nursing students are able to gain clinical experience in oncology nursing and improve upon compassionate care. The program began in 2014 and has rapidly expanded to now sponsor 36 fellows at many major hospitals along the East coast. The program is offered to nursing students at a variety of leading undergraduate nursing schools including Boston College.

Through the generosity of Mr. Flynn, Boston College senior nursing students had the opportunity to take part in adult oncology fellowships at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital (in collaboration with the Carol A. Ghiloni Oncology Nursing Fellowship) and also a pediatric oncology fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital. Throughout the eight weeks of the program, the fellows experience the roles of the oncology nurse, as well as the various treatment modalities offered for patients with cancer. To conclude the fellowship, the fellows complete an “evidence-based practice” research project that incorporates some aspect of oncology nursing, which is then presented to the management and staff they worked with throughout the summer.

Katie McGaughey CSON 2017 – Summer 2016 was the first year that the Susan D. Flynn Oncology Nursing Fellowship Program offered opportunities in pediatric oncology, with Boston Children’s Hospital being one of the participating hospitals. Throughout this program, I was able to observe and gain clinical experience not only on the various oncology floors at Boston Children’s Hospital, but also at the Jimmy Fund Clinic, a part of Dana Farber Cancer Institute. During the eight weeks, I rotated through a variety of floors, each offering a different aspect of oncology care. To start, two weeks were spent on the Stem Cell Transplant floor, where we learned about different types of hematopoietic stem cell transplants and the various indications for these transplants. This was followed by two more weeks on the neurology floor, with an emphasis on different types of pediatric brain cancers. To conclude, the final four weeks were spent on the general hematology/ oncology floor at Children’s, in which I was exposed to a large variety of hematologic cancers as well as different types of solid tumors. During the experience, I learned about many types of chemotherapy, antibody therapy, and radiation. When at the Jimmy Fund Clinic, I witnessed and learned about outpatient chemotherapy and procedures, including sedated bone marrow biopsies and intrathecal chemotherapy.  Most importantly, I learned about the family-centered care that is essential to working in pediatrics, in which both the patient and the family are most important. It was through this fellowship that my confidence as a nurse grew, as did my desire to work in pediatric oncology after graduation.

Emily McClure CSON 2017 – This fellowship was an amazing opportunity for aspiring oncology nurses, like myself and the other former fellows. Not only did I learn a tremendous amount about the field of oncology and what it means to be a pediatric oncology nurse in a hands-on, personalized manner, but I developed a strong sense of confidence and independence as a future nurse. Aside from practicing the nursing skills specific to oncology care, I was able to make connections with patients and families as I cared for them day after day. I was able to see and feel firsthand, for the first time, what it might be like to be a nurse in this area of nursing. The evidence-based practice presentation also helped encourage a feeling of my capability and confidence in this specialty. After the completion of this fellowship, I feel ready and able to be a contributing leader in my nursing career.

Sarah Woods CSON 2017 – “My experience this summer at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) was truly transformational. The most remarkable aspect about the Flynn Fellowship is the intentional rotations in different specialties within oncology. It was a privilege to shadow numerous departments at DFCI–this provided me with a full picture of all the stages oncology patients encounter from diagnosis, to infusion treatments, to palliative care. As part of the Flynn Fellowship, each fellow extensively researches one topic related to oncology and presents an evidenced-based project to the staff at their designated hospital. I presented on “Using Nursing Practice to Promote Physical Activity,” which enabled me to combine three of my passions–oncology nursing, exercise, and the empowerment of others.    My passion and knowledge about oncology have grown tremendously as a result of this eight-week internship. As a Flynn Fellowship Alumnus, I entered my senior year with more confidence, motivation, and passion that will undoubtedly shape my role as a nurse in the years to come.”

Meagan McKenzie CSON 2017 – The Flynn Fellowship at Dana Farber Cancer Institute was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, as a nursing student, to not only develop nursing skills and knowledge but develop a real passion for oncology nursing. In this preceptor-based fellowship, I was exposed to inpatient oncology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a breast cancer infusion floor at DFCI, radiation oncology, palliative care, clinical trials and nursing research. At the end of the 8-week fellowship, the fellows presented an evidence-based practice research project, mine focusing on Nursing Burnout and Compassion Fatigue in oncology nursing. The experience and exposure I got from this program have concreted my desire to be an oncology nurse and fueled my passion as well.

Brittney Bentivegna, CSON 2017 – Carol A. Ghiloni Oncology Nursing Fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital: This is a 10-week program that allows rising senior nursing students to gain clinical and observational experiences in all aspects of Oncology Nursing. Students have the opportunity to work one-on-one with nurse preceptors on three inpatient oncology units as well as shadow in various departments including Interventional Radiology, Chemotherapy Infusion, Pediatric Oncology and Palliative Care. The program culminates with the presentation of individual research projects completed by each Ghiloni fellow on an Oncology nursing topic of interest.  The topic I chose for my presentation was Graft-versus-Host Disease, which is something I saw in the majority of my patients that had received stem cell transplants. Having seen first-hand how debilitating this disease can be, I really enjoyed reading the current literature on it and discovering the many different treatments that have started to arise. Overall, this fellowship was a truly life-altering experience and it definitely confirmed my desire to pursue Oncology Nursing in the future.