It’s rare these days for people to stay in the same job at the same place for most of their careers, regardless of their type of work.
Anne Courtney, AAS, RN, OCN, is an exception: She has spent all 28 years of her nursing career at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“When I started in nursing school, a fellow student told me about Roswell Park and I thought it’d be great to be an aide to learn about nursing,” she says. “I had an interest in cancer and when I got here, I just loved it. This is where I wanted my career and I never wanted to go anywhere.”
Her dedication to patients, and to Roswell Park, earned her the distinction of being named our Nurse of the Month for August.
Times change; caring for patients remains top priority
While the technology behind caring for patients, like switching from paper to digital charts, has changed, Courtney’s passion for providing treatment has not.
“I just really like the people. I like taking care of cancer patients. I really like my coworkers,” she says. “I’ve worked with some really great teams over the years. I’m in the Head and Neck clinic now; I’ve been here over 10 years.”
If a patient appears especially scared or nervous about treatment, and the moment seems right, she’ll share with them her story: She’s a cancer survivor, too.
“It gives you more perspective when you talk to the patients. You can put yourself in their shoes,” Courtney says. “If someone seems particularly scared, I’ll tell them, but it’s their time and I don’t want them to use their personal time listening to a nurse’s story.”
She was already working at Roswell Park when she was diagnosed and was treated here. “I knew I would get the best care. I wouldn’t dream of going anywhere else,” she says.
Courtney has seen firsthand how treating cancer has changed, noting specifically the advances and developments of personalized medicine, including immunotherapies and oncotyping to allow for better targeted treatments designed to address a patient’s exact cancer type.
“That has changed patients’ lives. It’s incredible,” she says. “I’ve seen so many advances that have made a huge difference. We’ve come so far. I see the advances in chemotherapy that are helping people not be as sick and improve their outcomes.”
Leading with empathy and compassion
Courtney’s dedication as a nurse is the cornerstone of her practice, according to the person who nominated her for Nurse of the Month.
“She treats all her patients holistically, taking care of their physical, mental and spiritual need. Anne’s empathy allows her to place herself in her patients’ shoes. She treats all with respect, compassion and professionalism.”
She also is credited with being very skilled at getting to bottom of an issue when someone calls in.
“She ensures all patient needs are met and coordinates any hospital services needed. Her attention to detail and tenacity assists Anne in a resolution of any patient issue through to a satisfactory completion.
“Anne is always willing to go the extra mile for her patients,” the nomination continues. “She is an invaluable member of the Head and Neck/Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery team, as well as to Roswell Park.”
Courtney hopes to spend more of her off-hours going to concerts and movies again as big events start to return, in addition to spending time with her extended family – she’s the oldest of five siblings.
She’s grateful to be recognized for her work as a nurse.
“It really means a lot to me. I really do care about Roswell and I’m always proud to say I’m a nurse at Roswell Park.”
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