A celebration of Oncology Nursing Day

Committed. Compassionate. Supportive.

These are just some of the words used to describe oncology nurses in the cancer program. This special group of professionals were celebrated across Canada on April 5 for National Oncology Nursing Day.

The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre marked the occasion with its 7th Annual Oncology Nursing Day Awards.

The awards recognize outstanding contributions to oncology nursing and support the professional development of oncology nurses in the cancer program.

In addition to caring for and supporting patients and their families, oncology nurses are involved in creating resources and providing patient education, applying and conducting research, as well as supporting learning and growth of interprofessional students and staff members.

Several nominations were submitted for the following three awards:

The Award of Excellence in Nursing Preceptorship / Mentorship / Teaching was awarded to Nemia Ilustre, a Specialized Oncology Nurse (SON) on the inpatient palliative care unit (16P).

Nemia was recognized by her colleagues for her high standards of practice for herself and those she teaches. She is committed to excellent patient care, fosters a supportive environment for nursing colleagues to work in and grow, and has an energy that seems to be endless.

She mentors students, new staff and her colleagues and is described as kind, empathetic and a role model of “caring” for her patients and their families.

The Rising Star Oncology Nursing Award is presented to an oncology nurse that is new to nursing – less than five years since graduating from an undergraduate program and less than three years in oncology – in recognition of the contributions to excellence in nursing and enhancing the patient experience through patient-centred care.

Emily McGrath, Registered Nurse (RN) with the gynecology team at Princess Margaret, was the recipient of this year’s award. Colleagues described Emily as having superb interpersonal skills, a strong commitment to doing the very best for her patients, and grounded in unbounded energy and enthusiasm.
She often goes above and beyond what is expected of someone with only 18 months experience since graduation. She was the first RN to be offered an ambulatory oncology nursing position upon graduation.

The Rose Dean Essence of Oncology Nursing Award was presented to an oncology nurse in recognition of an outstanding contribution to nursing aligned with the “best of nursing” themes, including the power of presence and truly “being with” patients and colleagues, providing excellent practice, and fostering an environment that enables nurses to be their best.

This year’s recipient was Nancy Gregorio, Nurse Coordinator for the Neoadjuvant Breast Cancer Program. Nancy embodies the spirit of this award in both her clinical practice and collegial relationships.
Her colleagues say she embraces the “essence of nursing” by demonstrating compassion, caring and “being present” with patients. Nancy creates and fosters an environment that enables oncology nurses to be their best by functioning as an example of what is possible.

She is well respected by her nursing colleagues as well as by the interprofessional team.