Carrie Clark, R.N.: Giving patient care full rein
May 13, 2016 | by City of Hope
I try to take care of my patients as if they were my family." Carrie Clark
In honor of national nurses week, this story is the first in a series that will run throughout the month, featuring a few of the many talented and dedicated nurses who continue to provide excellent patient care at City of Hope.
Carrie Clark, R.N., enjoys taking the reins both inside City of Hope’s hematology and hematopoietic stell cell transplant unit, and at her family’s 15-acre ranch near Temecula, California.
As an oncology and bone marrow transplant-certified nurse who is also certified in advanced cardiac life support, Clark provides in-depth care for patients who are hospitalized after a hematopoietic stem cell transplantation - a procedure often used in patients with blood or bone marrow cancers, such as leukemia and multiple myeloma.
But aside from being a member of the Oncology Nursing Society, Clark is also a member of the National Reining Horse Association and the American Quarter Horse Association, and rides as often as she can.
“I have known and enjoyed horses for as long as I can remember; I grew up with them,” she said. But it is only since she joined City of Hope in 2012 that she has had a schedule (three 12-hour shifts a week) that allows her to train and compete in one of her first passions, “reining” - a Western-style riding competition where the riders guide their horses through a precise pattern of circles, spins and stops. All work is done at a lope (a slow, relaxed version of the canter) or a gallop.
Not only does she now have the time, but City of Hope’s Duarte location is also close enough to her family’s ranch and to her trainers that she’s able to spend multiple days each week riding.
“Working outdoors and being with my horses is a great opportunity to balance my work at the hospital, which can be stressful, chaotic and emotional,” Clark said. Riding at her family’s ranch, she added, “is beautiful and peaceful and gives me space to feel refreshed and energized to give my best care once I am back at the hospital.”
After a day of riding, Clark is more than ready to return to work. “I enjoy giving excellent hands-on care to people who really need it,” she said. “It is equally demanding and rewarding. It provides new challenges and learning opportunities every single day. It is most rewarding to be a witness to the courage, strength, love, gratitude and the individuality that each patient carries with them in their fight against cancer. It is also rewarding to leave at the end of a long shift knowing that I did my best to make this incredibly difficult journey more comfortable and successful.”
Clark came to City of Hope because she wanted to return home after going to nursing school on the East Coast (she received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Pennsylvania.) She knew about City of Hope because several of her family members had been successfully treated there. “They received great care,” she said. “They would always remark on the high quality of nursing care and also how many years the nurses had worked there. I remember thinking then that if the nurses stayed that long, it must be a great place to work.”
Clark’s own mother received an autologous stem cell transplant at City of Hope more than seven years ago and is doing well. She shows up to work, she adds, with gratitude for her mother’s care in her heart. “I try to take care of my patients as if they were my family,” she said. “What would I want for my family member if they were the one in the bed?”
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