In Pursuit of Excellence – Shared Health

Nurse practitioner strives to provide exemplary oncology care

CCMB logo.  Text reads: In Pursuit of Excellence - Nurse practitioner strives to provide exemplary oncology care

No matter their diagnosis, stage of illness, or goals of care, there is always one question Christine Eisma asks herself before meeting a new patient: “How can I help them through their treatments as safely, comfortably, and seamlessly as possible?”

This question helps guide her work as an oncology nurse practitioner, and is one she is well equipped to answer.

Eisma started her career as a bedside nurse at Health Sciences Centre, but she discovered her niche in nursing when she began working at CancerCare Manitoba in 2011.

“It was the people I worked with who fueled my passion for nursing,” said Eisma. “I saw them strive for excellence, and it made me want to do the same.”

This pursuit of excellence is what guided Eisma on the next steps of her health-care journey. After witnessing the opportunities her colleagues had to make an even greater impact on the lives of their patients through an advanced-practice role, Eisma pursued additional training to become a nurse practitioner.

“Nurse practitioners are able to apply our nursing perspective to a medical lens,” said Eisma. “It allows us to walk closely with our patients as they navigate one of the hardest journeys they will ever go on.”

At CancerCare Manitoba, Eisma works with other members of the health care team to provide exemplary oncology care to people across the province. She believes nurses play a vital role because of their ability to provide holistic patient care and build trusting relationships with patients.

“All nurses — whether you are a bedside nurse, charge nurse, or nurse practitioner — strive to care for the whole person,” said Eisma. “Our patients are so grateful for someone who is willing to take a second to talk to them on the phone, ask them how their pet is doing, how their daughter’s soccer game was, before diving into the results of a clinical exam and the ins and out of treatment.”

Getting to know her patients helps Eisma address concerns she might not be aware of otherwise.

“I run a breast clinic, and a lot of my patients are around my age. Lots of them have young children, so it’s about learning to put myself in their position and making sure I know what their day-to-day looks like. ‘Is there anything else I can do for you?’ is a question I always ask when I am in the clinic exam room.”

Eisma said that many people often assume her work in oncology is depressing, and while some days are challenging, they are also very rewarding.

“People here, no matter what part of the journey they are on, are hopeful,” said Eisma. “Whether they are hoping for a long and healthy life with their family or to make it to an important milestone, everyone is hoping for something.”

Eisma is hopeful too — the landscape of cancer care is evolving every day thanks to cutting-edge research and innovation, which means earlier detection, a greater variety of treatments, and better health outcomes.

“I am always amazed to see how many changes and new types of services or treatments roll out every year,” said Eisma. “It’s hard to keep up, but it’s astonishing to see the clinical landscape evolve right before our eyes.”

Eisma is relatively new in her role as a nurse practitioner, but she knows there are many opportunities to have a positive impact on patient care throughout her career. “I just want to continue providing excellent, holistic care for my patients in all stages of their cancer journeys,” said Eisma. “To know that I have impacted their lives in a positive way, even if it’s small, is truly my ultimate goal.”

Nursing Week runs May 6-12 this year and is a time to recognize the incredible accomplishments and contributions that nurses bring to health-care teams and the delivery of services across the province.