Oncology Nurse Receives National Magnet Nurse of the Year Award

Lindsay Norris, RN Reads Her Open Letter to Cancer Patients

Lindsay Norris: Dear every cancer patient I ever took care of: I'm sorry I didn't get it. When I first walked through the doors of the cancer center as a patient instead of a nurse, it was very surreal. Pretty nervous, definitely a big day to see if there's any cancer left behind. Yeah, we're definitely hoping for some clean scans. I've always said the waiting is the worst part of cancer.

Lindsay Norris: I've worked in oncology nearly my entire adult life. I really thought I got it. I thought I knew what it felt like to go through this journey. I didn't.

Patient: Also, I have this, so congratulations.

Lindsay Norris: Aw, thank you. That's so sweet.

Lindsay Norris: I was definitely shocked to find out that I have a diagnosis of Stage 3C colorectal cancer. Two years out is a great accomplishment, but I still feel very close to it. I don't feel like I've beaten anything yet, and I just wanted to write that open letter to say, "Hey, I didn't get it." And then, "It's okay that people around you don't get it."

Lindsay Norris: I didn't get how strange it was to see your body changing so quickly. You stood there and looked at yourself in disbelief in the mirror. I didn't get how much you worried about your kids. For this, I'm the most regretful. I should've talked to you more about them. I didn't get the guilt you felt, especially to those who are married. You understood that everyone promises, "in sickness and in health," but you still felt like they didn't deserve this.

Lindsay Norris: I'd be lying if I said I didn't act a little differently now with my patients. I think I'm also not afraid to ask the hard questions. Before, I wasn't sure what the hard questions would be. "How are you really handling this? How are you coping? Are you sleeping at night? What are you the most afraid of?" Those are things that are really scary to get into, but sometimes that cancer patient does really need to talk through that.

Lindsay Norris: I didn't get that it never ends, never. I used to tell you that cancer would be just a phase in your life. I'm sorry if this made you feel marginalized. It is not a phase. What does being a cancer survivor mean? How do I just go back and act like none of this happened? The answer is, you can't and you don't. You're a cancer patient forever. It's very comforting to know that I'm in good hands forever.

Lindsay Norris: I'm Lindsay Norris, oncology nurse and stage 3 colorectal cancer survivor.

October 26, 2018

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Lindsay Norris, RN, oncology nurse, has received the prestigious American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) National Magnet Nurse of the Year® Award in the category of Structural Empowerment.

The award recognizes Lindsay's outstanding contributions to internal education by improving professional nursing certification at The University of Kansas Hospital. Her inspiration to better educate and equip her teams comes from a personal battle with Stage 3 colorectal cancer that began in 2016. Throughout her treatment at The University of Kansas Cancer Center, she experienced the cancer patient journey firsthand and was inspired to share her insights in an open letter to cancer patients that received national attention.

"The relationship between the nurse and patient is so important because we serve as a lifeline," Lindsay says. "Patients are just trying to process all the information related to their cancer, and we get the opportunity to be a translator. Being a Magnet-recognized nurse at a Magnet-designated hospital gives me that added confidence boost to empower the people I work with to help patients better navigate their cancer treatment."

"At The University of Kansas Hospital, we take care of our patients as if they are part of our own family, and sometimes, as in Lindsay's case, they are," Tammy Peterman, president of Kansas City division and executive vice president, chief operating officer, chief nursing officer for The University of Kansas Health System says. "Lindsay is an excellent example of a dedicated team member who believes fully in our mission and continually inspires others to further advance the nursing profession. This award is a well-deserved recognition of her commitment and reflects the approach our entire health system takes in ensuring the highest possible quality of care and patient experience."

The ANCC National Magnet Nurse of the Year awards recognize the outstanding contributions of clinical nurses across the country for innovation, consultation, leadership and professional risk-taking. Awards are presented in each of the 5 Magnet® Model components: Transformational Leadership; Structural Empowerment; Exemplary Professional Practice; New Knowledge, Innovations and Improvements; and Empirical Outcomes. This year's 5 winners were recognized at the ANCC National Magnet Conference in Denver.

The University of Kansas Hospital is the only hospital in the region to have been awarded 3 ANCC National Magnet Nurse of the Year awards in the last 6 years. Melanie Simpson, RN, PhD, received the honor in the Exemplary Professional Practice category in 2012, and Debbie Pennington, RN, received the award in the Transformational Leadership category in 2014.

"The nurses at The University of Kansas Health System are among the best in their profession, and we're pleased to receive industry recognition for the quality care we know they provide to our patients every day," Rachel Pepper, RN, chief nursing officer for The University of Kansas Hospital says. "This award – and our continued involvement with Magnet – illustrates our dedication to health system excellence across Kansas."

In addition to award recognition, Adam Meier, MSN, RN, NE-BC at The University of Kansas Health System, has been asked to serve on the Magnet Commission on Magnet Recognition committee. He will replace colleague Brian Selig, RN, an outgoing committee member.

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