Hyundai Cancer Institute Associate Spotlight: Tina Templeman, Clinical Research Nurse

In 2002, Tina Templeman began her career at CHOC as a bedside nurse on the oncology unit. While working with patients, Tina helped to create and implement the hospital’s online charting system. She was involved with teaching the charting system to new CHOC employees and physicians through the Clinical Education Department.

In 2008, Tina took on her current position as the clinical research nurse coordinator for the Neuro-oncology Treatment Program. Tina works directly with the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) to find open protocols for new patients. Once an appropriate treatment is found for the patient based on his or her cancer, stage and other eligibility requirements, Tina maintains the patient’s treatment plan and schedules.

“When I was a bedside nurse, I was very task oriented. I did not always understand why one patient was treated according to a certain protocol and another patient with the same diagnosis was treated on another,” Tina said. “Being part of this research team, I now know why. I am now part of the ‘big picture’ of care and get to be part of the process of deciding which treatment is best for a patient.”

While Tina’s job has taken her away from working in the clinic or at the bedside every day, she still gets to work one-on-one with patients when collecting data or blood samples for COG studies.

“I love my job because I still get to work directly with patients but also have the opportunities to work hard behind the scenes and be part of treatment outcomes,” Tina said. “The children we treat have these starry innocent little eyes that just melt my heart. They deserve a team of people to work hard for them to help manage their disease. I am very proud to be part of the Neuro-oncology Treatment Program.”

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    Hyundai Cancer Institute Associate Spotlight: Janet Hager, Case Coordinator

    Janet Hager is case coordinator for the After Cancer Treatment Survivorship (ACTS) Program. After working in several different areas of the hospital for more than 30 years, she found her home in the Cancer Institute.

    “I primarily worked with cancer patients many years ago when I worked in the ambulatory care clinic,” Janet said. “I felt drawn to working with oncology patients ever since. When the case coordinator position in the After Cancer Treatment Survivorship Program became available in 2002, I knew that it was the right move for me.”

    Janet and the rest of the ACTS team have dedicated themselves to helping cancer survivors navigate life after treatment.

    “It is very gratifying when we see our patients ‘graduate’ to their adult doctors,” Janet said. “Our team of doctors, nurses, and social workers couldn’t be more proud of our patients when we see that they have become savvy healthcare consumers and know how to advocate for their future health.”

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    Hyundai Cancer Institute Associate Spotlight: Julene Schenk, Case Coordinator

    For more than 20 years Julene Schenk has been caring for cancer patients at CHOC Children’s. She began her career as a bedside nurse and charge nurse in the hospital’s oncology division and became a case coordinator in 2008. As the neuro-oncology case coordinator, Julene works one-on-one with patients and their families to help them throughout their cancer treatments.

    “I love working with my patients and their families,” Julene said. “I have the opportunity to teach them all about their treatment process and chemotherapy regimens. I also advocate for them and help to alleviate any stressful problems that may come up along the way.” Julene also works with the family’s insurance company to ensure that treatment and accompanying therapy are covered.

    The Neuro-oncology Treatment Program at the Cancer Institute uses a team approach to treat patients. The team, led by Violet Shen, M.D., is made up of multidisciplinary specialists including a social worker, clinical research nurse, neuropsychologist, nurse practitioner, dietitian and child life specialists.

    “Our team approach makes the care we provide exceptional,” Julene said. “We work very closely with one another and have a great rapport. The most important people on any patient’s treatment team are the family. Because a patient’s family is that child’s best expert, parents and caregivers are involved in every step of the treatment process.”

    To learn more about the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s, please click here: http://www.choc.org/cancer/index.cfm

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    Hyundai Cancer Institute Associate Spotlight: Sharon Bergeron, Research Educator

    The Associates who work with the patients at the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s are second to none and this month we are proud to shine a spotlight on the amazing people who make the Cancer Institute great.  All of our Associates, from our oncologists to our physical therapists to our child life specialists, are specially trained to provide our pediatric cancer patients with the support they need during and after treatment.

    At the Cancer Institute at CHOC, our nurses receive ongoing education on the unique medical, emotional and social needs of our patients. Sharon Bergeron, RN, BSN, CPON, leads the charge in ensuring our nurses are equipped with the latest information and tools needed to provide our patients with the superior care CHOC is known for. As a research educator, Sharon is dedicated to providing our nurses with the latest news and information available on pediatric cancer treatment, including our cutting-edge clinical trials.

    “Over a span of almost 30 years, I have been deeply touched by the many patients and families I have helped cared for through the ups and downs of the cancer treatment journey,” Sharon said.  “It is with this knowledge and experience that I teach other pediatric hematology/oncology nurses what I know about caring for these children so that I can create an environment that allows nurses to provide the highest level of nursing care and flourish in their role. In addition, I work hard to provide an educational environment that encourages nurses to demonstrate independent and critical thinking skills so that they can deliver care yielding excellent patient outcomes and a high level of job satisfaction.”

    CHOC Children’s is a magnet hospital, which means that nurses are able to work in an environment that supports the nursing practice and provides them access to the tools to flourish in their careers. We empower our nurses to focus on professional autonomy, decision making at the bedside and obtaining and maintaining nursing certification in their specialty.

    Sharon’s role as a pediatric hematology/oncology expert and educator is deeply valued both at the Cancer Institute and in the medical community at large.  She is actively involved with Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses (APHON), the Southern California Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses (SCAPHON) and the Children’s Oncology Group.  She is also editor of APHON Counts, a national newsletter publication for the APHON membership and received the Kathy Ruccione Founder Award for Excellence in Pediatric Oncology Nursing in May 2011.

    To learn more about the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s, please click here:

    http://www.choc.org/cancer/index.cfm

    Hyundai Cancer Institute Associate Spotlight: Dr. Marcos Di Pinto

    The Associates who work with the patients at the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s are second to none and every Friday this month we are proud to shine a spotlight on the amazing people who make the Cancer Institute great.  All of our Associates, from our oncologists to our physical therapists to our child life specialists, are specially trained to provide our pediatric cancer patients with the support they need during and after treatment.

    When most people think about cancer, they often forget about psychological side effects of the disease.  The psychological issues patients and families deal with when coping with cancer can be overwhelming. The Cancer Institute has a dedicated psychology team who works closely with patients and families to help them cope with the emotional and psychological stress of cancer.

    Psychologists provide an initial consultation when the patient first meets with the Cancer Institute team, and provides assessments throughout the patient’s treatment. Our psychologists possess special expertise in diagnostic testing, therapy, and counseling for common emotional problems associated with cancer.  They assess and treats such issues as depression, anxiety, phobias (to medical procedures), anger, sleep difficulties, loss and grief, and behavioral problems. Moreover, they are available for consultations with parents, schools, physicians and other healthcare providers.

    Marcos Di Pinto, Ph.D., is involved with each neuro-oncology patient at the Cancer Institute right from the start.  As a neuropsychologist, he works with patients and families to help them understand how cancer impacts brain development and function.  He continues working with patients throughout their treatment and with follow-up care in the years after treatment ends.

    “I have a passion for working with children with tumors of the brain and spinal cord,” Dr. Di Pinto said.  “After doing my two-year residency caring for pediatric oncology patients, I knew that I had found my calling. Working at the Cancer Institute is wonderful because I get to work with amazing patients and their families.”