Growing up, Crystal Schneider learned the importance and intricacies of patient care from her mother.
“I always knew I wanted to work in the medical field because my mother is a psychiatric social worker. She worked in an inpatient hospital setting and I always knew she worked hard and made a big impact on her patients,” she says.
Initially, though, she wasn’t sure just what kind of medical work she wanted to do. In high school, she had an interest in working in the medical field and started to think about nursing. “I felt nursing would be an amazing career that involved a lot of science, research and dedication to helping people in their time of need.”
After being placed on a clinical rotation at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center as a summer student nurse intern while studying at Niagara University, Crystal Schneider BSN, RN, decided this is where she wanted to work. “I learned so much about how challenging, yet rewarding, oncology nursing is. The summer internship completely solidified the fact that I wanted to work at Roswell Park and, more specifically, 5 North, thanks to their team of amazing nurses, especially my preceptor Maureen Rogers, AAS, RN. I felt, and still feel, so lucky to have become a team member of 5 North right out of nursing school.”
Caring for patients who are being treated for leukemia, lymphoma and preparing for bone marrow transplants or CAR T-cell therapies provides Schneider the opportunity to get to know her patients well, as they often spend long stretches in time between treatments before they can be released home. “It’s nice to see them light up, especially on hard days, when they talk about their interests or pets or their family members.” Schneider administers T-cell or autologous stem cells to her patients, innovative cancer therapies that require long stays with the promise of a strong response against their cancer. “The patients are always so grateful as it is such a big moment in their journey.”
Schneider always makes a point to talk to her patients about their lives outside of cancer and Roswell Park, says Thomas Gross, MBA, BSN, RN, who nominated Schneider to be our Nurse of the Month for November. “Crystal knows the reason for each nursing task she performs and anticipates possible complications and ways to mitigate those complications. She, herself, advocates for her patients but also ensures that her patients have the knowledge and resources to become better advocates for their care as well. Her passion for oncology nursing is contagious and her tenacity to learn and do more motivates me to become a better nurse.”
Schneider is as supportive of her team as is she is of her patients, taking the time to help whenever she can and to make sure people “feel seen,” Gross says. “I have a great deal of respect for Crystal, as does the rest of the team here on 5 North.”
The respect and admiration are mutual between Schneider and her team. “The 5 North team works so well together on day shift and night shift. Especially as a brand-new nurse, it felt so good to have a team on your side to lend a hand or to ask questions,” she says. “We all really need each other to provide the best care for our patients. On 5 North we are always asking each other what someone may need help with. This stems from our wonderful manager, Laura Markel, BSN, RN, OCN, who always has our back.”
Schneider says the best part of her job is seeing someone cleared to go home. “It is so rewarding to see them doing well enough to go home and be with their families,” she says. “I cannot even fathom their excitement when they are brought down to the lobby after a long chemotherapy or treatment course in the hospital.”
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