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Interview Assessment #4

Oishika Das
Name of Person Interviewed: Donna Vasquez
Profession: Oncology Nurse Manager
Location and Business Name: Texas Health Presbyterian Plano
6200 W Parker Rd
Plano, TX 75093
Date of Interview: November 22, 2017
Time: 3:00 pm
My interview with Ms. Vasquez was one of my favorite ISM experiences this year. For
one, I was excited to conduct a meeting at an actual hospital. I went in with the hope that I would
be able to observe the environment and see if the ambiance is one that fits me. Furthermore, Ms.
Vasquez was very conversational and talking to her along with her coworkers gave me a lot of
insight into the oncology field. This interview was a little different from my typical ones because
Ms. Vasquez and I mostly talked about oncology through the viewpoint of a nurse rather than an
oncologist. Prior to the interview, I hadn’t considered a career in nursing, but speaking with
multiple nurses showed me how truly passionate they are with their job – something I hope to be
in the future. In general, my interview with Ms. Vasquez was one that opened new doors in my
interest with oncology by being both informative and fun.
On my way up to the oncology floor, I conversed with numerous patients on the elevator.
I was met with a surprise: despite many of the patients going through tough circumstances with
their disease, they were all polite if not cheerful. I had expected the hospital air to carry a sense
of quiet somberness, but instead, I was met with patients laughing with their families, friends
playing board games, and an amiable secretary. This environment reminded me of an article I
had read for a research assessment in which an oncologist explained that patients reflect the
mood of the staff. This basically means that an optimistic doctor can foster hope within the
patient’s family which is crucial to have when fighting a disease. Ms. Vasquez reinforced this
point when she explained that without a positive oncologist, patients stop believing they can
survive their disease and stopping fighting through cancer. In my brief time in the oncology
department, I could already feel the sense of hope and community hanging in the air. It wasn’t
just a patient working to fight cancer - every single staff member was fighting right with them.
So even before I began my interview, I knew the positive hospital environment is one that I
would love to work in.
Speaking to Ms. Vasquez, I realized that she had similar ideals. She said she had decided
to work as an oncology nurse during her high school years when she discovered that she enjoyed
the constant care within a nursing home where she volunteered. Since it was obvious that the
doctors and nurses care for their patients very much, I asked her how the staff handles a patient
death. She told me what helps her get through a patient death is the support from the other nurses
and oncologists. All the staff has been working together for decades so they are as close as a
family, and when a patient dies, all of them go out to mourn after work. I was surprised to learn
that patient deaths are as common as four to six each month. Even though this seems like a large
number of deaths, I know that the support of my fellow coworkers will help me get through a
patient’s passing. In addition, Ms. Vasquez emphasized that not all patient deaths will be of your
own patients. Instead of all nurses attending all the patients, each oncology nurse is assigned to
five cancer patients to care for. This means that the bond between a nurse and a patient can grow
very strong. The ratio of an oncologist to patients isn’t as small, with one oncologist overviewing
around forty different people. Ms. Vasquez said that even though an oncologist has many
patients they are responsible for, this does not mean that the relationship between a patient and
their doctor cannot be intimate. In fact, she told me that one of the oncologists she works for
takes time to sit and talk with patients no matter how busy his schedule is. I feel like I will
probably do the same as an oncologist because it will show my patients that I genuinely care for
them. The biggest lesson I learned from my interview with Ms. Vasquez was the importance of a
strong relationship among the oncologist, oncology nurses, and patients. A patient needs to trust
that their doctor is doing all they can to help the patient get better.
My interview with Ms. Vasquez not only taught me about the work environment within
the oncology field but also gave me a couple ideas for original work. Ms. Vasquez told me a
story of how she and her fellow nurses noticed that a lot of lymphoma patients were coming
from the same neighborhood. Getting suspicious, they reported their findings to the government
health agency and it was soon discovered that the whole neighborhood was built on an area with
a chemical spill. A similar situation occurred in Frisco when the hospital staff noticed that there
were many new cancer patients from the same region. Upon inspection, researchers found that
batteries were not being disposed properly and that the chemical residue was contaminating the
soil. Getting inspired by these cases, I realized that I could do something similar. If I could plot
the locations where hundreds of patients lived, I might be able to find a diagnosis trends within
the Dallas Fort-Worth area. This might lead to interesting discoveries, but at the very least, it can
lead to a final product highlighting the importance of chemical safety to health. Ms. Vasquez
also gave me another idea when she explained that oncology nurses often get cancer themselves
if they are accidentally exposed to chemotherapy. It would be horrible if this occurred to any
dedicated oncology workers, so for my original work, I could work to brainstorm means of
staying safer when treating patients. With this, my final product could be a prototype of a
technology that could work efficiently to protect oncology nurses from exposure to
Overall, my interview with Ms. Vasquez was very insightful. I learned about the different
commitments between oncologists and oncology nurses along with the importance of providing
hope to patient families. I also furthered my thought process regarding original work with the
help of Ms. Vasquez. Lastly, I found a personal fit within the oncology ward with kind patients
and a family-like bond among the staff. I know that life in the medical field will not always be
cheerful, but I can get used to it with the support from my fellow coworkers. Talking with Ms.
Vasquez inspired me to pursue oncology even more, and I hope to go back for a second