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Empowering Our Nurses

Journey to Becoming a Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurse

Each person’s journey to becoming a pediatric hematology/oncology nurse differs. Though it can be difficult, the career is mostly fulfilling.

Here are the perspectives of three nurses who found their way into the calling:

Erin Friedman, BSN, RN, CPHON®

Being a pediatric oncology nurse is more than just a career, it’s an honor. I always knew I wanted to “take care of people” when I grew up. When I grew up, I applied to be a volunteer in my city’s children’s hospital. While painting faces one afternoon, a small girl, with no hair, bounced up to me and asked if I would paint people on her knees so that when she danced, they’d dance with her. She was a dynamic girl with rhabdomyosarcoma. I quickly became friends with her and her family. Despite months of treatment, she entered hospice. While dying, she asked me if I would become her nurse one day, and the obvious answer was yes. The rest is history.

Robin Pitts, RN, MN, CFNP, CPHON®

I did not want to be a nurse. I wanted to do autopsies and determine cause of death. One day, I volunteered to shadow a pathologist, observed an autopsy, and determined my career path needed to change — immediately.

My primary focus is patients with sickle cell disease. Sickle cell is an invisible chronic illness; patients may appear unaffected, but their own body is working against them — unexpected pain, multi-organ damage, and chronic anemia. Caring for these patients motivated me to obtain my master’s degree in nursing and then become a family nurse practitioner. I love what I do and whom I do it for.

Micah A. Skeens, PhD, RN, CPNP

More than 20 years after deciding on this career, I have no regrets. Now a nurse scientist, my research is dedicated to improving outcomes for transplant patients. My career is still very much committed to those exceptional children and families. BMT is “different,” they told me. It’s “intense,” the kids “go through a lot,” or “you get attached.” The reality is: there were reasons my heart was drawn to it. Though hard, I learned a lot from my patients. They were resilient and inspiring. They molded me into a researcher committed to making their experience better.

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