UPHS — Marquette Heroes | Sarah Parkinson

Sarah Parkinson is the Outpatient Clinical Director for Cancer Care and Infusion Services

What is your official title?
Outpatient Clinical Director – Cancer Care and Infusion Services

What was your inspiration for getting into healthcare?
I had amazing family support who aided in molding that innate need to help. There wasn’t an “ah-ha” moment that directed me to nursing, it was just a natural fit for my passion to heal and help.

What’s a typical day like for you? What is it like working in this field?
There really isn’t a typical day. My focus includes ensuring the Cancer Care Team has the knowledge and confidence to give each patient efficient, quality care that is tailored to their diagnosis and needs. Some days I’m jumping in as the 2nd nurse on a safety double-check on chemotherapy or scheduling a next treatment and other days I’m behind the scenes working on a new process or project and ensuring the team has the education and equipment to give specialized care. My door is always open and I’m usually multitasking a few things at any time between staff and patient needs. There are a lot of moving parts to cancer care and therefore a lot of team members with many different skill sets. No one teammate can care for the patient single-handedly and I try to lead the team to anticipate roadblocks so they can be avoided as patients move through the cancer care process.

How long have you been employed here? Have you always been in the same position?
This January will be my 15th year. I started on the Surgical Unit as a staff nurse and moved to the outpatient Oncology clinic 3 years later. From there I transitioned to a manager and then Director of Oncology. I’ve been very fortunate to learn from some of the BEST nurses in both my years as a post-surgical and oncology nurse. 

What are some of the big changes you have experienced in this position?
Oncology care, in general, has changed so much since I started. From the changes in testing to how we treat cancer, there is always a new drug being approved and advancements in how radiation therapy is delivered. The most obvious change was the move to the new hospital. We took 3 separate departments, combining them into 2 inside the new Cancer Center. Infusion therapy for both hematology/oncology and non-hem/onc patients is now administered in the same space which has required a lot of changes in workflows. The move also allows our nursing staff to give blood products to oncology patients more efficiently instead of having to send them to a different department.Along with patient convenience is having Radiation Oncology and Medical Oncology in one space. At our old facility, cancer care was in different locations with Radiation Oncology at the hospital and Hematology/Medical Oncology at the Medical Center. This was an ongoing hardship for those patients requiring infusion treatment and radiation treatment, especially if they weren’t local to Marquette County. We’re very grateful for the shared space as the difference it’s made for patient care has been immeasurable.

What are some of your interests outside of work? What is your favorite local gem?
I enjoy camping and spending time with my family. My husband and I have been working room by room doing major remodeling on our home for the better part of a decade, so besides now raising our children, it’s what occupies our time most weekends. (And by “we” are remodeling, I mean him! We’re a good team, I do what I can, but he’s amazing!)My favorite local gem is Lake Superior. My family enjoys combing the shores for beach glass. It’s calming and competition all in one: Who can find the most? The largest? The rarest color?

What do you enjoy most about working at UPHS – Marquette?
Our staff and the patients. Cancer Care is unique because relationships between patients and staff form naturally due to the frequency of visits. Experiencing a new patient starting treatment, scared of the unknown, and over time seeing them let down their guard, become comfortable with the staff, staff getting to know them and hearing the story sharing of pets/children/grandchildren/etc. It’s a privilege to witness. I’m very proud to work with this group. The Cancer Care team is amazing, and patients share their appreciation with me regularly.

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