Try as she might, Nurse Josie Fisher can’t change the fact that kids develop cancer.
But when they do, she wants to ensure that the hard moments are balanced out by plenty of light-hearted memories, too.
That approach has endeared Fisher to Alex Schlink and his family. Alex first came to University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital for cancer treatment in 2014. Alex, his sister Kirsten and their parents have formed an incredible bond with Fisher, who was one of the first people they met at the hospital. To thank Josie, Kirsten and Alex nominated her for our annual Masonic Mission Award. In the nomination, they wrote:
“We will never be able to fully express or explain our gratitude to Josie, on how she has impacted our life and journey with Masonic [Children’s Hospital]. She has simply left footprints on our hearts.”
We caught up with Josie, who was recognized as the 2016 Masonic Mission Award recipient, to ask her a few questions about her passion for nursing.
I fulfill two very different roles as a pediatric cancer care nurse at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital. Half the time I work on the floor providing bedside care for patients and families. This includes administering chemotherapy and blood products—and addressing any other needs a patient may have. My other role is as a charge nurse on the day shift. In this position, it is my responsibility to help the staff solve issues that arise, assist families and act as a liaison for others.
I'm extremely passionate about the kids and their families, and I want to help make their journey the best experience possible. I can't change the fact that kids develop cancer. That said, I can still do my best to help the family. My approach: If these are the cards life has dealt to these kids, then by golly let's have fun. Yes, I said fun. I have been known to have squirt gun fights with kids, and sometimes prank them with silly string or toilet paper. I have also been the target of plenty of pranks organized by the kids under my care. These experiences are a good way to distract them from other hard moments or situations.
I was very humbled and honored. The Schlinks are an incredible family, and have taught me some wonderful life lessons. They have celebrated some important milestones, and they have also endured some long, dark periods. Despite all they have been through, Alex and his family still took the time to nominate me and do something amazing for someone else. I will always remember and be grateful for what they have taught me and done for me.
As I said before, I cannot change the fact that kids are going to get sick and develop cancer. But I can help them have fun and make memories while they are on this journey. I believe in being goofy and celebrating the big and small things that happen in my patient’s lives. Other times, we need to make accommodations to changing conditions. During these moments, I adopt a "can do" attitude and do my best to support the kids and their families as they pass through rough waters.
I really enjoy and value being a part of the incredible team of people at Masonic Children’s Hospital who care for these kids and their families. Every member of our team is an important component in the excellent care that these patients receive. It's also exciting to be working at a leading-edge institution, where we are able to use the latest advances for the treatment of these kids.