Greenwich Hospital announces first graduates of oncology internship

Members of Greenwich Hospital cancer care teams joined oncology fellowship program sponsor Fred C. Flynn, Jr. at a celebration for graduating fellows Kaitlin Campbell (seated at left) and Julia Melvin (seated at right) in July.

Members of Greenwich Hospital cancer care teams joined oncology fellowship program sponsor Fred C. Flynn, Jr. at a celebration for graduating fellows Kaitlin Campbell (seated at left) and Julia Melvin (seated at right) in July.

Greenwich Hospital has announced the graduation of two Boston College nursing students, Julia Melvin and Kaitlin Campbell, from a new oncology nursing fellowship program piloted at the hospital this summer.

The program was made possible through the Susan D. Flynn Oncology Nursing Training and Development Fund, established by retired Stamford business executive Frederick C. Flynn Jr. in memory of his late wife, who died of ovarian cancer in 2013. Ms. Melvin and Ms. Campbell were two of 11 oncology nursing students — primarily from Boston College and Fairfield University — to complete this unique program sponsored by Mr. Flynn at several leading hospitals, including Greenwich Hospital, Stamford Hospital, Wentworth-Douglas Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Mr. Flynn’s fellowship program plan grew out of his experience with Greenwich Hospital’s Palliative Care Program in April 2013, when his wife was in the final stages of her courageous three-year battle with ovarian cancer. Profoundly moved by the compassionate care she received from medical director Donna Coletti, MD and the palliative care nursing team, following her death, he launched a matching gift campaign to raise $125,000 in support of the Palliative Care Program.

When that campaign ended, Mr. Flynn expanded his mission to include creating the comprehensive pilot program to help develop the next generation of oncology nurses. According to Mr. Flynn, the fellowship program was modeled after the nationally renowned Ghiloni Oncology Nursing Fellowship Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, developed to give student nurses an opportunity to immerse themselves in oncology nursing by working in top cancer care hospitals.

“The management and nursing staff at Greenwich Hospital did a wonderful job implementing this program and deserve tremendous credit for making it a success,” Mr. Flynn said. “As a result, I have committed to endow this valuable oncology nursing ‘resource development’ program for the next several years.”

During the eight weeks Ms. Melvin and Ms. Campbell spent at Greenwich Hospital they shadowed seasoned nurses, becoming integral hands-on members of the cancer care teams in the OR, Radiation, Chemo Infusion, the Cancer Registry and Oncology Research. They also worked with nurse navigators and the Quality and Safety team and attended Schwartz Center Rounds, a monthly discussion among hospital staff about the ethical and emotional challenges caregivers face.

“The support from the nursing staff was huge,” said Ms. Melvin. “Hearing the nurses speak about their career paths to oncology was inspiring. Directly contributing to patient care was liberating and gave us a lot of confidence.”

Ms. Campbell, a resident of Rye, N.Y., agrees. “Working alongside the nurses every day, we developed relationships with patients in the units. We got to see real end of life issues you can’t experience in a classroom.”

Both women say the fellowship has deepened their commitment to oncology nursing and that they will enter senior year at Boston College’s Connell School of Nursing this fall with heightened confidence.

“Our hope is that this fellowship has provided these two vibrant, energetic young women with a unique exposure to the field of oncology nursing that will inform and guide them as they build their own nursing careers,” said Oncology program director Maria Marini, RN.

Based on its success, Mr. Flynn plans to expand the oncology nursing internship program next year, partnering with additional leading oncology hospitals and top undergraduate nursing programs throughout the country.

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