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Recently named the top cancer hospital in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center is one of the largest employers in the Houston area with more than 18,000 employees. As more of our nation’s citizens get older, cancer is becoming a major health concern for many families and their loved ones. As such, cancer treatment and research is a growing field.
Elizabeth Sorensen, an advanced practice nurse in the M.D. Anderson Lymphoma and Myeloma clinic, talks about her work with cancer patients from all over the world who come to be treated by the best right here in Houston.
What degree program did you study?
“I completed a bridge program at UT Austin School of Nursing that offered an registered nurse license, plus master of science in nursing, to people who held degrees in other areas. My degree was a bachelor of science in psychology. After completion of the three-year program, I was certified as an adult health clinical nurse specialist, which is an advanced practice role.”
What does your current position entail?
“Currently, I practice in the lymphoma and myeloma clinic at MD Anderson Cancer Center. I care for patients who are undergoing chemotherapy and provide symptom management, chemotherapy education, cancer prevention education and long-term follow-up. I evaluate, diagnose and prescribe the necessary treatments for cancer patients. I also help manage patients who are enrolled on clinical trials and work directly with the research team to manage care.
“As a member of an interdisciplinary team that includes a research nurse, clinical nurse, pharmacist and oncologist, I provide holistic and patient-focused care. I evaluate and support patients before, during and after chemotherapy and manage any side effects including nausea, fever, rash, anemia and fluid/electrolyte imbalances. I develop treatment plans and monitor chemotherapy effectiveness and also provide care to patients in the acute care setting if they require admission to the hospital.”
Do you feel your education prepared you for your current role?
“Yes, by providing clinical hours in learning-rich environments. I chose the oncology specialty early on and the program provided a mentor with a strong oncology background. My professors never stopped emphasizing the importance of reading the latest peer-reviewed journals and seeking out evidence-based practice. Go for it. This career provides endless opportunities in diverse working environments. You will truly never stop learning.”
Gillian Kruse is a freelance writer living in Houston. She graduated from Rice University with a great love for all performing and visual arts. She enjoys writing about arts and cultural events, especially little-known ones, to help Houstonians learn about what’s going on in their city. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.