Ray Mangione, BSN, RN, spent 10 years working as a teacher, guiding and helping students and showing how they could accomplish more than they thought possible.
Now, as a resource nurse at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, he’s doing the same for his patients.
Being a teacher and being a nurse have a few things in common, he says. “Patience is big. You also have to be a pusher. You hold high expectations for those students and it’s the same here.” Surgical patients will need to walk a certain distance before they’re cleared to go home after their procedure, for example. Education has a role to play too, letting a patient’s family or friends know what’s going on and how treatment will proceed, in addition to explaining to the patient what’s happening.
“We talk about the goals we can set for the day to help them improve their outcomes and get them to feel better,” Mangione says. “Another giant piece is the psychosocial piece. People are nervous and on edge and I try to reassure them that they’re in good hands. I tell the patients I’m not here for the doctors, I’m an advocate for you. I advocate for you to the doctors. Knowing they have someone on their side can go a long way.”
When Mangione made his career switch, he was following in the footsteps of his sister, Dana DeLuke, who worked at Roswell Park for 13 years before retiring. For a short time, they worked together but on opposite shifts; when they crossed paths, they’d catch up before going to see patients or heading for home. Mangione completed a few rotations at Roswell Park while studying to be a nurse at the State University of New York at Buffalo’s accelerated nursing program and didn’t want to work anywhere else. “You walk around Western New York and tell people you work at Roswell Park and they treat you like you’re a rock star.”
Helping patients across Roswell Park
While he’s spent the past few months on 8 West, Mangione is a resource nurse, meaning he rotates through the hospital to help as needed. “I love it,” he says. “You get to know everybody in the hospital, you get to be a Jack of all trades. I can do medicine nursing, critical care, surgical nursing. It’s nice. The biggest piece for me is it’s nice to know everybody. There’s a great staff here, great managers.”
Working as a teacher was all about helping the students and now, as a nurse, his care and attention are devoted to his patients. “You know it’s going to make a difference,” he says. “It’s a tough job. It’s not an easy one. I talk with families on the outside or in here and everyone says it must be a tough place to work. On the one hand, there are some sad stories. But there are good ones too. You feel like you make a difference in those patients’ lives and in their families’ lives. There’s more of a difference to make, in particular with patients with cancer.”
His advocacy on his patients’ behalf, and his attention to their care, has earned him recognition as Roswell Park’s Nurse of the Month for July.
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Helping nurses and patients alike
“As a float pool nurse with critical care experience, he offers a wide variety of talent to any unit he is sent to. Working in the ICU setting with him is amazing,” says Kyle Kane, BSN, RN. “He has the knowledge to assist the ICU nurses with whatever we need, at any give point. Having this ability is one thing and utilizing it is another, and Ray 100% exceeds that. He takes it upon himself to help other nurses who have a busy assignment without even asking them.”
Mangione helps with transfers and prepares internal nutrition supplement tube lines for patients when they’re needed to keep things on schedule and will answer call bells and phone calls from the nurses’ station without being asked, Kane says. He will also double-check medications for patients and nurses alike when things get busy to make sure nothing goes awry. “Ray is always doing his best work and this improves the morale of the unit he works on greatly. His patient care is stellar and his family values he instills through patient care allows him to care for patients of all ages and races. His assistance is never one-sided or preferential. He performs all of these actions with an amazing amount of compassion, respect, kindness and he has a wealth of knowledge of myriad nursing aspects.”
“It’s a special place to work. There are few jobs where you feel you’re making a difference in people’s lives, whether it’s the patient or their family,” Mangione says.
Each shift, he helps his patients set goals for the day. Even if the patient is hesitant or unsure of his methods at first, they trust him and work hard to achieve those goals. By looking at the short-term, just one day at a time, Mangione helps make sure they’re making the incremental improvements that will help them get stronger and ready to return home. “By the end of their time in the hospital, they’re all very appreciative. They see the results of the hard work they put in. Nine years now, I’ve seen it time and time again. They put in the work, they’re going to feel better, they’re going to do better. They’re going to have better outcomes… I can’t imagine many other careers that are as immediately rewarding as nursing. Every day you get to come in and help people.”