When people wonder how oncology nurse practitioner Krista Rawson deals with the sadness she sees on the job, she’s quick to remind them of the flip side she encounters — happiness.
“Lots of (patients) have taught me some neat lessons in life. Some of them are people who have gone on and done great things themselves,” said Rawson who works at Central Alberta Cancer Centre.
She said her job clarifies what is important in life.
“Really, I have one of the best jobs in the world. There’s not a lot of jobs where you have the opportunity to spend your day helping people and discussing what’s important to them, how do they like to spend their time, what do they need to focus on for them.
“When you leave work you think about that.
“You leave and say — what’s important to me, what should I be doing.”
Earlier this month, Rawson, 46, of Red Deer, was awarded the Pfizer Award of Excellence in Nursing Clinical Practice by the Canadian Association of Nurses in Oncology.
Chosen by her peers, the clinical practice award is given for leadership in the development of oncology patient care.
Rawson found out she was nominated by an Edmonton colleague and that she won the award all at the same time.
“It was a lovely surprise and a great honour.”
She received her award at the annual meeting of Canadian Association of Nurses in Oncology held in Ottawa.
Rawson was the first nurse practitioner at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton before coming to Central Alberta Cancer Centre in 2009 to once again be the only nurse practitioner at the Red Deer facility.
A nurse since 1987, Rawson has been a nurse practitioner since 2003.
When she joined Central Alberta Cancer Centre, she started working with lung cancer patients in addition to those with breast and gastrointestinal cancers.
“My day primarily consists of seeing people with one of the three types of cancers and talking to them about their treatment, how they’re doing, what we can do to make things better. That’s my day-to-day work.”
A second nurse practitioner will be hired next year when the centre moves into its brand new facility that will be triple in size and brings radiation to Central Alberta for the first time.
The $46-million, two-storey facility located on the south side of Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre is expected to open in spring/summer 2013.
Construction began in December 2010.
Rawson said the expansion will benefit many Central Albertans who have to travel to, or move to Edmonton or Calgary for treatment, and those who can’t.
“Research tells us that if you don’t live within a certain distance of a cancer centre you will make decisions sometimes to exclude treatment because of the fact that you know you need to travel and you know you need to be away.”