When Christina Joseph, B.S.N., R.N., was in nursing school, a close teacher and mentor was diagnosed with cancer. “I took that as a sign,” said the Southern California native. “So I went into oncology nursing.”
Eleven years later, Joseph hasn’t looked back. Caring for patients in the City of Hope Alpha Clinic and outpatient clinics within the Michael Amini Transfusion Medicine Center at City of Hope, Joseph works in a leading-edge environment that pioneers new therapies and chemotherapies. The clinic developed protocols for such treatments as delivering stem cell transplants on an outpatient basis.
A surprising number of treatments can now be given at the Alpha Clinic, a program dedicated to the rapid research and development of stem cell-based therapies. One of three clinics funded by an $8-million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, “Our mission is to accelerate stem cell treatments for patients with unmet medical needs. To be one of the nurses in the clinic brings out the researcher in me, which is one of the many important roles of nursing,” said Joseph.
Because the clinic patients have no bedside nurse at home, “We are the jack-of-all-trades for them – the caregiver, the educator, the counselor, the scientist,” said Joseph. “They come in with a lot of anxiety. It’s important to let them know the whole process, what’s going on, what’s going to happen day by day.”
The clinic recently passed a significant milestone, completing 220 outpatient stem cell transplants. “This work takes a particular patience and ability to assess the patient,” said Joseph. “None of these therapies come without side effects, and being able to anticipate and assess is critically important.”
The most crucial skill, she added, is empathy for what the patient is going through. “If you start there,” she said, “you can help them through anything. That’s why I feel this work is so important.”