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APSHO Spotlight

APSHO invites members to share their experiences as oncology advanced practitioners. If you’d like to be featured in an upcoming Member Spotlight, please complete the questionnaire here: apsho.org/Spotlight

Spotlight on...Tina Harris, AOCNP, FNP, Tennessee Oncology

What brought you to the field of oncology?
I had went to nursing school because I wanted to make a difference, and I loved doing what I could to help others. My rotations in clinicals were nothing spectacular, and although I excelled in nursing school, nothing stood out to me personally. My first job as a new RN was on the cardiac floor. I would leave work after my 7 pm–7 am shift in tears.
I would cry all the way home, at times so tired and barely seeing the road from my tears. I was so upset that I wasted my time going to nursing school only to be miserable. One evening I came in to my shift and was floated to the oncology floor and I never looked back. This field was my calling, and I realized that GOD had answered my prayers.  I had been asking for guidance. I had found my purpose.

What do you enjoy most about working in oncology?
The patients, family, and colleagues. The learning and new treatments. The never-ending education.

What is the most satisfying/challenging aspect of your job?
The most satisfying is telling a patient your cancer is cured or in remission, seeing the relief from patients or the family members when they hear that their "cancer" hasn't progressed. The most challenging is having the hospice discussion—when there are no other options and referring to hospice. No matter how many times you have the discussion, it is never easy, and a part of you feels, "Could we have done something different or added another drug?"

What are your major professional accomplishments, memberships, areas of service?
Leader in Radiation Oncology as a Nurse Practitioner, mentor to fellow Advanced Practitioners, APSHO member including communication committee member, Advanced Post News Editor, Chattanooga ONS member, volunteer
for local Susan G. Komen events, including health fairs, speaker for local support groups, including Prostate Cancer.

 

Who were/are your mentors?
My fellow colleagues and APSHO members

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
No matter how hard you try to cure cancer or the numerous treatments you offer patients, when their journey is complete here on earth, they will die. Just like you will one day. You need to make a difference and do your best. I was told this by one of my patients who I had to discuss hospice with after we had nothing else to offer. He thanked me for the care and friendship. I still cry when I think of him (including writing about him now).

What are your goals for the future?
I have applied for the doctorate program in integrated medicine. I want to take part in health policy and continue to advocate for patients and our advanced practitioners. I want the betterment of healthcare and our patients. We all deserve healthcare and access.

What would someone meeting you for the first time be surprised to learn?
They would be surprised that I am very active in healthcare policy, politics, and work behind the scenes.

Is there something else you’d like fellow APSHO members to know about you?
I value our members and am in awe of our members. We are stewards in healthcare. I enjoy seeing our members' accomplishments and am very proud of them.

Is there anything about your family, hobbies or interests you would like to share?
My husband and I have four children (ages 9–14) and sometimes wonder how we get through the day, let alone the week. We are a very active family with camping, kayaking, fishing, and anything outdoors. We have two rescue dogs. Although most of our friends have their first grandchild, we feel our family
keeps us young and healthy. Anyone with children in school today is smarter than a fifth grader after helping with homework.

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