Today I am excited to share a little bit about my new job- the dream job I’ve waited for my entire life. Without disclosing too much information about the organization or any patient information due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act(HIPAA), I will say just that I work as a registered nurse at the Integrative Medicine Center at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and that this unique and rare position is in total alignment with everything that I am most passionate about. In fact, it is the first time in my life that I wake up every day looking forward to going to work, which is quickly becoming my second home and source of deep a sense of purpose and joy.
According to our monthly newsletter, Integrative Medicine is defined as the following:
“Integrative Medicine is an approach to health care delivery that balances complementary health approaches and lifestyle medicine with conventional medicine in a deliberate manner that is personalized, evidence-informed, and safe…(these) refer to natural products (dietary supplements, herbals), mind and body practices (meditation, yoga, massage, acupuncture), and other systems of care such as traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, or naturopathy.”
Basically, it applies a holistic approach involving mental, emotional, physical, spiritual and social aspects of well-being in addition to a patient’s already existing traditional plan of care. Our goal is not to provide alternative therapy or cures for cancer; rather, it is the foundation to begin integrating complementary therapies which will maximize a patient’s quality of life and overall well-being, regardless of their illness, treatment or prognosis.
Our team consists of world-renowned doctors and practitioners and also offers a dietician, physical therapist, health psychologists, music therapy, massage and acupuncture as well as the teachers for the various group classes. My role as the nurse is to assess the patient by checking vital signs, asking more focused questions on the patient’s concerns, and providing education and resources to allow for the best possible outcomes specific to the needs of each patient. We discuss topics such as diet/exercise, supplements and herbs, natural methods to aid in the relief of side effects of cancer and cancer treatments, and offer group classes such as meditation, Qigong, and group exercise and cooking classes.
Another aspect I really enjoy is that of research- new, cutting-edge research on not only cancer treatments, but the various clinical studies and lectures on topics such as mental health, palliative care, and break-through evidence in all things holistic. But my favorite part is that no matter what the patient is going through, integrative medicine serves as the foundation to provide a spark of hope for those who are affected by the stressors of their daily lives.
As per our mission, we aim to optimize health, quality of life and clinical outcomes through integrative medicine education and research-driven clinical care. I am filled with humble gratitude each day and could not be happier to be a part of this amazing team! I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds in store for me, and sharing my newfound knowledge and experiences with you all!