More than a quarter century after becoming a Registered Nurse, Carolyn McFadden is still doing everything she can to become better at what she does.
And what she does is providing an exceptional level of care to cancer patients and their families at Bluewater Health.
McFadden, who has specialized in cancer care (oncology) for some 14 years, has taken that passion to what many say is the penultimate level—becoming a de Souza nurse.
For those in the nursing profession, that's all that needs to be said. For the unschooled of us, a little more detail might be required.
The de Souza Institute, created in 2008 using funding already going to nursing education at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, is now considered one of the most innovative centres for innovative continuing education, mentorship and fellowship programs to nurses across the province.
Named in honour of the late Anna Maria de Souza, a native of Brazil who became a distinguished philanthropist and volunteer in Toronto. Mrs. de Souza's efforts resulted in over $53 million raised for a variety of causes, most in the area of health care, her principal commitment being the Brazilian Carnival Ball, the largest charitable fundraising gala in Canada.
Recently, Bluewater Health's McFadden participated in a video encouraging oncology nurses throughout the province to consider doing what she did—becoming a de Souza nurse.
McFadden became an oncology nurse after first serving as an emergency room nurse. When amalgamation of Sarnia's hospitals occurred, she moved to Ambulatory Care, which at the time included oncology.
And yes, she's heard the comments, how oncology must be one of the most depressing places to work.
McFadden couldn't disagree more.
"I think oncology is one of the most rewarding places to be," she says. "I was totally drawn to it."
Part of the attraction is what nurses like McFadden are able to provide to not only their patients, but their families.
"We see what they need, what they go through, and we are able to help them through that cancer journey," says McFadden. "We're able to be an advocate for them, be supportive, and just make it better for them in whatever way we can. No, it's not depressing. It's wonderful."
McFadden does admit she was surprised by how different oncology care can be compared with other areas of the hospital. "From my experience in emergency, you know what's involved: you do this and this and this. It's very task oriented. In oncology, it's more supportive care. It's about teaching, communication and being connected with your patients. It's much more relational in that respect."
That doesn't mean there aren't challenges.
"The hardest part of the job is seeing what some of the patients go through," says McFadden. "Sometimes you can help, and sometimes you like to have everything tied up in a nice neat box, but that's not always the case."
Still, McFadden says she enjoys working with families who are going through "a very hard time."
"You're hoping that you can lessen their anxiety and lessen their issues."