Finding My Purpose in Oncology Nursing

Finding My Purpose in Oncology Nursing

Terri Frassinelli, RN, Clinical Director, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

Finding the Way Back to Her Calling

Terri Frassinelli started her career at UPMC eight years ago as an inpatient oncology nurse at UPMC Montefiore, then moved to the outpatient center at UPMC St. Margaret. She left UPMC briefly to work in case management and population health management at another organization, but to find the career fulfillment she was looking for, she returned to oncology nursing at UPMC, this time at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.

“I felt something was missing,” Terri explained. “I was lacking a clear direction and focus. That led me to look for an opportunity to return to UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, and one year later I can honestly say it has been the best professional decision I have made!”

A Career that Does Good

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center is one of the largest integrated community networks of cancer physicians and health care specialists in the United States. More than 110,000 people are treated there each year, and more than 37,000 of those are new patients.

“Cancer impacts so many people, and as a nurse I saw an opportunity to help make the journey through cancer treatment a little easier,” Terri said. “Providing comfort, helping people better understand their treatment and advocating for them to ensure they are in control of their treatment path are all part of the oncology nurse’s role.”

Oncology nursing offered Terri the direction she felt she had been lacking in case management and population health management. For Terri, making a difference in people’s lives matters most in her career, and she felt UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, the Pittsburgh region’s only Comprehensive Cancer Center recognized by the National Cancer Institute, was the place where she could make the greatest impact.

“At UPMC Hillman Cancer Center there is truly ONE focus — caring for the patients with cancer and their families,” Terri said. “Despite all of the pressures in this competitive and continually evolving health care market, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center has always been focused on delivering best-in-class care to our patients in an environment where staff feel valued.”

The People Who Make the Difference

It was also important to Terri to surround herself with people as passionate about her work as she is. “The team of nurses that stand by your side every day are absolutely amazing,” she said, “and as the clinical director, I have the opportunity to influence the experiences of all of the nurses who work within the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center medical oncology sites. Ensuring that nurses have a voice, feel valued, and are empowered to provide best-in-class care for our patients is extremely rewarding!”

Despite the challenges of working with patients who have cancer, Terri said she believes “the rewards of helping patients and their families through their cancer journey far outweigh the challenges.”

“Oncology nursing is a career that truly allows a nurse to be an advocate for his or her patients,” she added, “and you will leave your job every day knowing you made a difference. We live in a very dynamic healthcare environment where priorities constantly change, but our day-to-day focus at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center is to ensure that we are making a positive difference in the lives of patients with cancer and their families. I can’t think of a better reason to come to work every day!”

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