Vince Paluch, RN, AAS, did not set out to be a nurse. He was looking for a job in education when he decided to explore healthcare as a career.
Now, nearly 22 years later, he has become a steadying presence for patients and his Interventional Radiology team alike.
“I started at Roswell Park on 7 East, which was head and neck, neuro and thoracic surgery, then spent three years each in the ICU and the postanesthesia unit,” says Vince, who has worked in IR for the majority of his career at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. His first job in medicine was working with patients during rehabilitation stints, followed by a time in home healthcare. With two young children at home at the time, he wanted something that would help him provide a good life for his family and he’d heard good things about working at Roswell Park.
All these years later, he knows this was the right place to go. “You can help people,” he says. “We step into people’s lives when they’re having the hardest time and we help them navigate it.”
Much of what Vince and his team do is provide hope to patients who are not candidates for surgery or radiation. “I’ve been here long enough to see people given 18 months to live, but some of the treatments we offer, you can buy lots of time,” he says. One patient with liver cancer just wanted to see his daughter graduate; thanks to Vince and the treatment provided by the IR team, the man was able to not only see that momentous day but saw the birth of his granddaughter, too.
“You’re stepping into people’s lives when they’re facing their mortality. You help people,” Vince says.
It’s this compassionate and careful approach to his work that make Paluch our Nurse of the Month for December.
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In addition to being an attentive nurse, Vince “has been a pillar of our nursing staff for over a decade,” writes Michael Petroziello, MD, an Assistant Professor of Oncology, Diagnostic Radiology and Interventional Radiology and a physician in the IR department. “Undergoing a medical procedure can be an anxiety inducing event for many patients. Vince displays compassion and understanding that places our patients at ease. Unsolicited, he will often hold a patient’s hand during a painful component of a procedure to help them through.”
“Vince has been a valuable member of several quality improvement meetings with his recommendations often leading to impactful change,” Dr. Petroziello continues. “He has a great understanding for wading through the patient’s medical history and lab work to identify the key issues critical for the case. He communicates well with the other floor staff to ensure safe transfers of our patients with key recovery points emphasized. He also helps teach new nurses and promotes a team-centered environment. Our Interventional Radiology department has benefitted tremendously from Vince’s presence.”
Vince also knows he’s been of help to others outside of his department. He helped his sister navigate Roswell Park during her fight with cancer and has been able to help others do the same. He’s also earned a reputation of being a steady hand when blood draws are needed.
As for his Nurse of the Month honors, Vince chuckled. “I thought it was an intra-department one,” he says. “Everybody (in the department) thanked me for buying them lunch. I gave the flowers to my girlfriend. Everyone’s happy.”