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Q & A with Jill Keeney Tuzio ’10: Making a Difference in Patients’ Lives

Q: What do you do for a living?
I am a registered nurse at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. I am an oncology certified nurse and my unit typically manages patients with liquid malignancies (such as leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma) and solid malignancies. As an oncology certified nurse, I administer chemotherapy, manage care of patients during autologous stem cell transplants, manage care of patients during/after T cell infusions and monitor chemotherapy associated issues such as neutropenia, mucositis, and pain.
 
Q: Why did you become a nurse?
I chose to become a nurse to care for patients in every way possible and pledged to make a difference in my patients lives.
 
Q: How do you feel about what you do for a living?
I love what I do for a living and every day I work validates that feeling. I am extremely proud of the decision I made to be a nurse and COVID-19 has significantly reinforced that feeling. During this difficult time, I have witnessed the healthcare community from around the world stand together for a universal cause. Being part of this community allows you to see at firsthand the impact you have on your patients, their families, and others around you. As a healthcare professional, we are tasked with supporting, comforting, and caring for patients in one of the most difficult times in their lives. As an oncology nurse, I am rewarded every shift with forming great relationships with my patients and their families in their time of need.
 
Q: How has COVID-19 impacted your life at work?
COVID-19 has impacted my daily work life in several different ways. There has been another level of stress added to my daily work life. We healthcare workers have taken on several different roles within our daily workflow and it can be difficult to balance our tasks and emotions. Many of us are working longer hours than normal, and days can be challenging; however, the healthcare community is strong, and the support can be a powerful source of inspiration.
 
It is difficult for any patient to be admitted to the hospital, but exceptionally difficult to be in the hospital at this time. In order to keep patients and healthcare workers safe, there is a visitor restriction policy in place. It is extremely difficult to see our patients go through treatment without their loved ones there. As an oncology nurse, I often get to know a patient’s family extremely well during their hospital stay. It is emotional for everyone to see anyone miss loved ones. However, I have participated in and witnessed healthcare workers taking action for their patients and being the support they need at their bedside. This includes easing patients anxiety when they are scared or even making patients laugh. I have seen little gestures go a long way and truly make a difference in each person’s day.
 
The collaboration of all members of the health system has been extremely impressive. From our environmental service workers, cafeteria workers, physicians, nurses, and other disciplinary teams, everyone has taken it upon themselves to make a difference and keep our community safe. We are all practicing as one team and moving towards the same goal.
 
Q: What are you doing to maintain your personal well-being?
When not at work, I spend all of my time with my husband and my three-year-old Bernedoodle, Zoey. Family and friend zoom sessions, running, and Netflix have all helped me maintain my personal well-being.
 
Q: Is there anything from your Shipley experience/education that has stuck with you or served you well in life? 
My experiences in Shipley athletics and the rigorous academic curriculum have provided me a foundation of resiliency, leadership, and courage. All three of these traits have allowed me to advocate for my patients and provide quality care.
 
Katie Whelan, my high school field hockey coach, taught me to never give up and face adversity with confidence. From preseason to preparing me to play field hockey in college, Katie always demonstrated that hard work was needed to be successful. I carried her hard-working mentality with me and still use it every day as a nurse.
 
Q: Are there any messages that you'd like to share with the Shipley community?
I want to thank everyone at Shipley for molding me into the person I am today. I am thankful to belong to such a great community and want to especially thank all my teachers that have helped me along the way. Go Gators!
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The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.