My Career: Susan D. Flynn Oncology Nursing Student Fellowship Program @ HUP

- Kimberly Nowakowski, Southington, Conn.

Kim Nowakowski recalls the eye opening experience of a deep and wide exposureto a variety of facets of oncology nursing. "I absolutely loved this opportunity," she says.

'
Kim Nowakowski (top left) in a lighter moment with other Flynn fellows and oncology nursing staff at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

After his wife lost her battle with ovarian cancer, Fred Flynn created the Susan D. Flynn Oncology Nursing Fellowship Program for rising senior undergraduate Nursing students. Combining selected top oncology care centers with highly regarded schools of nursing, the program exposes students to a wide array of oncology treatment modalities, patient care settings and the extensive knowledge and skills of oncology nurses in those settings. 

Rising senior Kim Nowakowski, a Connecticut resident like the Flynns, was one of those selected for the student development program.

"It was definitely one of the best learning experiences of my life," says Kim as she describes the program, "It is an 8-week paid fellowship during the summer, and one nursing student from Villanova and two nursing students from Penn are chosen for the oncology floors at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP)." There is one student on each of three oncology floors.

"You work 40 hours a week Monday through Friday. Two to three of these days per week are spent on your floor, with your preceptor or another nurse if your preceptor is not there that shift. Most shifts are 8 hours, but they also give you some 12 hour day and 12 hour night shifts for the experience," she notes.

Kim enjoyed rotation among units. She says, "The staff is so welcoming and kind, and you get to meet people from all sorts of professional healthcare specialities. Outside of the time on the floor, there are also a few days a week where we shadowed other inpatient and outpatient areas, such as outpatient chemo infusion and radiation therapy, interning at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society headquarters in Philadelphia, shadowing nurse practitioners, working on the MICU floor, attending continuing education classes, shadowing social work and palliative care -- you truly become immersed in the entire spectrum of oncology care."

Students must also complete an evidence-based practice project. "Each of us also presented to the nursing staff and other hospital staff on a research topic of our choice related to oncology care," she recalls. Kim spoke about the benefits of educating nursing students and practicing nurses about the use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) by oncology patients.

The Flynn Fellowship enhanced Kim's nursing education. She says, "This program is intended to foster and promote oncology nurses, so I definitely recommend it to anyone with any interest in oncology!"

'
Kim Nowakowski shares the joy in completing the Flynn Fellowship with her father (left) and Fred Flynn, who established the program for nursing students in memory of his late wife.