Susan Flynn (L) with daughter, Katie.
In partnership with the N.C. Cancer Hospital, the fellowship program will immerse undergraduate nursing students in applied oncology training.
UNC-Chapel Hill’s first Susan D. Flynn Oncology Nursing Fellows have begun a six-week immersive program intended to stimulate the career interest and professional development of potential oncology nurses. Austin Cole and Morgan Reddick, both undergraduate students at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Nursing, comprise the inaugural fellowship class.
The Susan D. Flynn Oncology Fellowship Program was established in 2014 by Frederick C. Flynn, Jr. in memory of his late wife, Susan, following her three-year battle with ovarian cancer. Designed to honor the compassionate oncology nursing care Susan received and to help develop the next generation of oncology nurses in the U.S., the program has expanded from 11 fellows in 2014 to 37 fellows this summer selected from several of the nation’s top undergraduate nursing schools in partnerships with 15 leading cancer hospitals.
“Despite the growing need for oncology nurses, most undergraduate nursing students get very limited (if any) exposure—academically or clinically—to oncology nursing,” said Fred Flynn, a retired business executive. “By fostering a collaborative training effort with the leading cancer hospitals and undergraduate nursing schools, oncology nursing education can be significantly improved, and more aspiring nurses can be attracted to this important field.”
School of Nursing faculty and practitioners at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center have worked together to develop the six-week program that provides fellows with inter-professional education and training through direct interaction with cancer patients and their families and observation of the care they receive in a variety of clinical settings and practices. During this time, they will also complete an evidence-based practice project and present their work at the end of the fellowship.
“We’re thrilled to be able to bring this type of enhanced educational opportunity to UNC,” said School of Nursing Professor Deborah K. Mayer, PhD, RN, FAAN, who serves as director of cancer survivorship at UNC Lineberger. “At the end of six weeks, Flynn Fellows will have experienced the full breadth of the oncology nurse’s involvement in the team of care providers serving a patient with cancer. Few things could better equip and inspire an aspiring oncology nurse than this kind of direct, immersive experience.”
Statistics show that this type of fellowship training program comes at a time when the U.S. population is aging at an unprecedented rate, bringing with it series of challenges to the oncological community.
“While we are making great strides in cancer therapy, the aging of the U.S. population is actually increasing the number of cancer cases diagnosed annually from 1.5 to 1.6 million new patients. It’s obvious that we need to attract and train more oncology nurses to care for them,” said Shelley Earp, MD, Director of UNC Cancer Care and former UNC Lineberger Director. “The oncology nurse is the focal point of cancer care, guiding the compassionate atmosphere in the clinic and the follow-up to an increasing number of survivors. UNC Lineberger is so grateful for the opportunity to work with UNC’s world class nursing school to expand the Susan D. Flynn Oncology Nursing Fellowship Program. The impact of this program will be felt by patients and families everywhere.”
This fellowship program is made possible through the generosity of Fred Flynn. Fellows receive a stipend for the six-week program. More information is available at www.sdfondp.com.