“They know it’s scary, but they never hesitate. It’s about the patients,” Renee DeWald, Clinical Nurse Manager of the 6 North and 5 East floors at Roswell Park, says of the staff on 6N, the designated floor for patients who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Ashley Keppel draws upon the memory of her late friend, Jake Madonia, to inspire her day-to-day at Roswell. A nurse manager at Roswell, and later a patient, Madonia taught Keppel that patient advocacy would be one of her biggest roles as a nurse.

As we mark National Nurses Day and the beginning of National Nurses Week, it’s fitting to remember that in the United States, the first professional training programs for nurses grew out of the Civil War.
COVID-19 did not arrive with a set of instructions. Healthcare professionals everywhere have had to quickly adopt new practices and improvise to solve problems they never faced before.

I’ve never taken my career choice for granted. I always knew that I wanted to take care of people during times when they couldn’t care for themselves. Seeing how this has manifested in my life has been a true blessing.

Life has a funny way of leading you down the right path, despite the plans you have for yourself. That path led me to a very special friendship.

Where she once cared for active-duty troops, families and retired members of the armed forces, Dr. Bell now supports patients in waging war against cancer at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Christine Pieri graduated from nursing school on a Saturday and started work at Roswell Park the following Monday. In those early days, “I didn’t know much about oncology,” she says, “but once I got here, that became my passion."

Prospective employers expressed doubt that she was really a nurse or emphasized that even if she were hired, she would not receive the same pay as the white nurses and would have to eat alone, in the kitchen. Those roadblocks were no match for the determination of Eva Bateman.

In 1990, during my nursing clinical rotation here at Roswell Park, I declared, “This is it. This is where I want to work.” Nearly 28 years later, I am still here and still look forward to coming to work every day.

Letting people know that I see them as more than just their diagnosis helps to build trust. The woman who nominated me is a patient I see every month, and I’ve gotten to know her really well. She has four sons — two in college and one who got married recently — so she certainly has a lot going on!

When we think of clinical research, we may picture doctors and scientists collecting data or patients trying new treatment regimens. However, there’s an essential element behind every clinical research study that’s missing from this picture: clinical research nurses.