The Cancer Institute Of NJ Celebrates Its Nurses During Oncology Nursing Month

From left:  Kara Saggiomo, MSN, APN-C, AOCNP and Joyce Plaza, RN, BSN, OCN.

From left: Kara Saggiomo, MSN, APN-C, AOCNP and Joyce Plaza, RN, BSN, OCN. (Photo courtesy of The Cancer Institute of New Jersey)

NEW BRUNSWICK – From treatment, to research, to education, the expertise of oncology nurses in managing cancer runs the gamut. To celebrate the dedication of these professionals, The Cancer Institute of New Jersey this week honored members of its nursing team with its annual Oncology Nursing Excellence Awards during the Elizabeth Gibby Osborne Lecture. The annual Oncology Nursing Excellence Awards, which are scholarships awarded to outstanding nurses at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, highlight the various levels of nursing expertise seen at the Institute.

Noted as a “leader” in the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program, Kara Saggiomo, MSN, APN-C, AOCNP, was selected by her peers as this year’s award recipient in the category of Advanced Practice Nurse. Saggiomo is heralded by members of her team as someone who “exemplifies advanced practice nursing by providing excellent patient care” with “an approach to patients that is both competent and caring” and is looked upon as someone that others “look to in order to solve complex issues.” Chandrika Jeyamohan, RN, MSN, APN-C, CCRC, was also a nominee in this category.

“Above and beyond,” are key sentiments that fellow nurses and doctors used to describe Joyce Plaza, RN, BSN, OCN, who was chosen for the award in the Generalist Nurse category. Plaza was noted as a nurse who “leads by example, is committed and congenial and takes pride” in her work. She also was hailed for her “outstanding clinical judgment in the complex care of patients” in the Gastrointestinal/Hepatobiliary Oncology Program, as well as her devotion to those patients. Jamie Chan, RN; Sherri Damare, RNC, MSN, OCN; Joyce Herrera, RN, BSN, OCN; Josephine Machado, BSN, RN, OCN; and Kira Lynn Voitle, RN, BSN, OCN, also were nominated for this category.

This year’s Elizabeth Gibby Osborne Lecture featured Susan Keane-Baker. With more than two decades of experience in the healthcare industry, including a number of leadership positions, Keane-Baker is no stranger to service excellence and managing patient expectations, as well as the challenges nurses may face in delivering on those everyday goals. In her talk “The World is Full of Cactus, but We Don’t Have to Sit on It,” Keane-Baker shared strategies on how to deal with a tough day or a difficult situation and still maintain a positive outlook.

“Quality oncology nursing care requires more than just being knowledgeable about the treatment the nurse is administering. As professionals, we know that compassion and understanding are also necessary and just as important,” noted Event Committee Chair Carla Schaefer, BSN, RN, OCN, nurse manager of the adult treatment area at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey. “Because nursing education and professional development are very important to us, we welcome expertise of others in our field to share new strategies to manage day-to-day challenges that may come our way in order to deliver optimal care that addresses the clinical, social, and emotional needs of the patient.”

The lectureship and Nursing Excellence Awards are underwritten in part by the Elizabeth Gibby Osborne Lecture and Scholarship Fund. The fund bearing Osborne’s name was established immediately following her death from cancer in 2004. “Liz” — as she was affectionately known by the nurses at CINJ who treated her — was a longtime resident of central New Jersey. Because of Liz’s strong belief in education, her husband Bill created the fund in an effort to give oncology nurses at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey an opportunity to learn more about their profession from peers in the field.

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