Subaru Love Stories: Local Oncology Nurse Explains Importance of Relationship-Building in Cancer Care
Whether it’s working late nights and weekends in the hospital or providing 24-hour assistance over the phone, oncology nurses go the extra mile.
Kyrstin Ciao, an oncology nurse with the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, knows the importance of accessibility in her line of work. The mother of two treats her patients like family so they know they can rely on her at a moment’s notice when they need a prescription refill, have questions about treatment or just want a few kind words from a friendly face.
To work safely and efficiently on the go, Kyrstin trusts her Subaru Forester.
What does your role entail? What is a typical day like?
I am currently in an outpatient oncology Care Management support role working evenings, weekends, and holidays. I take phone calls from patients and caregivers after hours to provide 24-hour support for our patients. Patients and caregivers call me when patients are sick, have questions, need refills, need education on their medications or chemotherapies, and also communicate with outside medical professionals to provide continuity of care for our patients if they have to go to a different ER or hospital for assistance.
What led you to become an oncology nurse?
I had an interest in oncology nursing while in school. I don’t even know where the interest came from, really, it was something that just called to me. So while in nursing school, I got a job as a nurse’s aid on an oncology inpatient unit and loved it. Fortunately, that unit hired me on as a new nurse and that is how I got my start.
Name three essential qualities for an oncology nurse.
Compassionate, loving and patient. You have to remember that you are dealing with patients during one of — if not the — hardest challenges of their life. Patients get angry, scared, upset, anxious, confused… they are not familiar with the complexities of chemotherapies, their side effects and sometimes can’t even pronounce or remember their treatment’s name. You really have to listen to your patient to see what it is they need and how you can help.
What is your favorite part about your job?
Building relationships with my patients. In oncology nursing, you see your patients again and again and again. They come in the office regularly for chemotherapy and follow up appointments, so you get to see your patients often. You meet their families, coach them through challenges, and celebrate their successes. You develop personal relationships with your patients and families and it can be very fulfilling.
Describe the most challenging thing about being an oncology nurse. How do you overcome it?
The negative side of developing personal relationships with your patients is that it can be very emotional if your patients aren’t doing well. Because these are people with whom you care for on a personal level, in addition to on a professional level, when your patients are sick or hurting you hurt with them and their families.
What model Subaru do you drive?
I have a Subaru Forester from Glanzmann Subaru in Jenkintown, PA
How has your Subaru made your life easier?
I have 2 children, ages 1 and 3, and the Forester gives us enough room to carry the two kids in car seats, a double stroller and any and all gear we need for our activities. We are season ticket holders for the Philadelphia Union and have no problems packing up the kids and tailgate gear for a game. The large windows and moon roof also help us for plane spotting; my husband is an airplane enthusiast and we enjoy taking the kids to watch airplanes on nice days.
What is your commute like?
My current position is mostly work from home, however prior to switching to this position and getting this Forester, my husband had a Subaru WRX. In snow, ice or rain, the WRX was our workhorse; it always got me into work safely and home to our family safely. That’s why when it was time to upgrade to a larger family vehicle, there was no contest, it was going to be another Subaru.
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This interview has been condensed and edited for length.This is a paid partnership between Subaru and Philadelphia Magazine's City/Studio