When he was preparing to end high school, Tyler Russ had a decision to make: Did he want to pursue engineering, or become a nurse?
“I like the sciences more,” says Russ, now Tyler Russ BSN, RN, a four-year nurse in the Transplant and Cellular Therapy Center at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, working with blood and marrow transplant (BMT) patients. “I think the work is meaningful. When I wake up in the morning, I enjoy coming to work and helping people.”
As the oldest of six siblings, he thinks the ability to care for people is second nature for him. But it was a family friend who might have inspired his decision to go into nursing.
“He was kind of a mentor and he was a nurse. He passed away from pancreatic cancer five or six years ago,” Russ says. “He was the one I looked up to. He worked up from a nurse to a manager and he knew everyone in all the hospitals. I wanted to be like him.”
The staff in the BMT ward spend a lot of time with their patients, many of whom have to be kept in the hospital before, during and after their transplant procedure. “We do it all,” Russ says of his team’s responsibilities for their patients. “I think we get to follow them really closely because of their transplants. We do the pre-transfusion chemotherapy. If their white blood cell counts go down, or other variables happen, we have to be ready. We keep a close eye on them but that also means there’s a lot of autonomy. There are a lot of standing orders that pertain to their conditions and we can activate them without having to call a doctor. We’re able to treat the patient right away.”
That helps build a close, tight-knit team as well, he says. “We’re all kind of friends on this floor. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a time when someone’s drowning in work and no one helps. It creates a really good work environment.”
Russ himself personifies those qualities, says Jessica Roche, RN, a nurse on 5 East who works closely with Russ. She nominated him to be recognized as Roswell Park’s Nurse of the Month for September. “Tyler embodies what it means to be a nurse. He is compassionate, knowledgeable and an all-around hard worker. He is the first person to offer a helping hand to his teammates on the floor, myself included, and is committed to providing the best quality care he can for his patients.
“His hard work is infectious and I just know it’s going to be a good day no matter what when I see him here on 5 East,” she continues. “Patients absolutely love his kind and humorous demeanor; he makes them feel safe and in good hands when they are under his care.”
Russ says he had no idea he was about to be named Nurse of the Month: He was conducting rounds with doctors, caring for patients, when the lead nurse called him away.
“Working on this floor has been very helpful in me becoming the nurse I am today,” he says. “It’s a great place and it’s a good culture here at Roswell Park.”
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