Pediatric oncology is a profession filled with special nurses and doctors who take care of special patients. Anita Pool is one of these nurses. Anita is a nurse practitioner in the Rio Grande Valley area of South Texas. She sees patients five days a week in an outpatient clinic where she administers chemotherapy and blood products to her young patients.
Anita didn't begin her working career as a nurse, however. She was originally an engineer, but after losing her job when her company eliminated some positions, Anita decided it was for the best and changed the direction of her life. She obtained her nursing degree in 1993. In 2007, she decided that she needed to take the final steps in her journey to becoming a Nurse Practitioner. In the time since obtaining her license, Anita has enjoyed the autonomy and respect that comes along with her extra years of education. Working full-time while furthering her education and attending graduate school was not an easy path, but it has paid off for her with rewards that can't be measured by salary.
Because the patients are so young, it takes a particular type of person to do this work. Anita says that the job entails "helping kids and their families get through illnesses and navigate the health care system." As any parent knows, having a child with a serious illness can be stressful; as everyone knows, dealing with insurance companies, new medications, and balancing work with multiple doctor's appointments can be daunting. "My most rewarding experiences come every day when I am able to answer questions and help parents understand their child's illness or condition. That is a big concern in pediatrics; parents feel so much better when they understand what is going on and why we are doing the things we do."
When asked what she loves best about her job, she answers, "My favorite days in clinic are the 'last chemo days', when a child comes to clinic for his or her final chemotherapy." The clinic staff help the families to celebrate with balloons, cupcakes, cards, and plenty of hugs and tears. "Everyone is so happy to see the end of treatment. We all feel like we got through it as a team."
If you'd like to learn more about becoming a pediatric oncology nurse, you can visit the website of the Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses. Their website offers information on their purpose and mission, membership, and also certification and continuing education.
Photo Source: Anita Pool