December 16, 2014
The CBCC medical staff goes beyond our clinic. At Dell Children’s Medical Center, 4North unit is where our patients are also treated for treatments that require overnight stays.
Dawn MacCartney is the clinical manager for the unit and overseas 45 people on her team. Dawn became a nurse in May of 1988 and joined Dell Children’s in April of 2012.
She says she knew she wanted to be a pediatric nurse during her pediatric rotation in school. “I have always been a “kid” person, and enjoy having fun and being a bit silly, which worked out well with the kids.”
Dawn shares her thoughts and experiences of being a pediatric oncology nurse.
What attracted you to Dell Children’s Medical Center’s cancer program?
I was recruited for this position by an outside recruiter – in researching DCMC and the cancer program, I loved the fact that this was a growing program with goals of bringing all aspects of cancer care to the patients we serve. I was impressed that we had a survivorship program, and that developing a Bone Marrow TransplantT unit was in the future. When I visited for my interview, I was able to meet some of the nurses and the manager for CBCC at the time. I could tell that there was an engaged, passionate team here and was honored to be asked to become a part of it.
Why and how did you decide to work in pediatric hematology/oncology?
About 6 months into my nursing career, I met “Richie”, a 6 year old patient with rhabdomyosarcoma. This young man had a pretty rough up-bringing, even before his cancer diagnosis. I met him as he shook up a can of 7-Up and sprayed the linen cart on the unit I had just joined “just for fun”. He was a pistol! I love a challenge, and began asking to take care of him. It didn’t take long for me to realize that these were the kids I wanted to surround myself with…It was a mixed unit, and many of the nurses didn’t like to take care of the oncology kids, so the charge nurses were more than happy to appease me by assigning all of these kids to me. The kids are so inspiring – I feel very blessed to have met this young man, and all of the others that followed.
It takes a lot of compassion and strength to care for pediatric oncology patients as they become more like family. Where do you get your strength to handle the emotional rollercoaster these families face?
Hard question – don’t know if I have an answer. I get my strength from my “work family” all of the people that have chosen this same special field, as well as from the children and families themselves. It truly is an honor to be a part of such a caring team, and to be allowed to be a part of this journey by the patients and their families. Over the years, I have learned much from the patients, the parents, the staff, the physicians, the chaplains, really everyone seeing the kids that have made it through this journey grow up and become adults really helps too!
What’s the most rewarding part of your work?
Helping my team be successful – however that looks. Inspiring nurses to learn more about our specialty, assisting in getting them the tools they need to provide excellent care to our patients, whether that be staff or equipment. Being able to support/develop a team that makes a difference for the kids and their families.
What is something patients or your team might be surprise to know about you?
I didn’t know I wanted to be a nurse when I went to college all those many years ago. My first major was Chemical Engineering…I still don’t know what kind of jobs chemical engineers do! I’m very glad that didn’t last.