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Nurse Navigator is ‘Oncology Nurse of the Year’

Published on Jun. 24, 2021

Linda Meyer, BSN, RN, took a job out of high school working as a nursing assistant and activities aide at a nursing home. 

“I loved working with people and being able to help them,” she said. Those roles helped influence her decision to pursue a nursing career – and now years later she still is meeting patient needs as an Oncology Nurse Navigator at Cowell Family Cancer Center walking alongside breast cancer patients.

Her compassion and dedication to her patients as well as her positive impact on nursing colleagues led to her nomination and then selection as the Traverse Bay Region Oncology Nurse of the Year. The honor is awarded by the Michigan Traverse Bay Region Chapter of the national Oncology Nursing Society.

An 'Expert Nurse' in Breast Oncology

Cowell Family Cancer Center Clinical Manager Rebecca Gallegos, BSN, BS, RN, OCN, CMOM-Hem-Onc, characterizes Linda as an “expert” nurse in breast oncology.  She nominated Linda for the award.

“Linda is a resource for nurses at Cowell Family Cancer Center as well as throughout the region,” she said. “She is a wealth of knowledge, always willing to share input and guidance, and provides education to other nurses. She shares her time and knowledge with the community as well.”

When the role opened in 2018, Linda had years of experience on a medical/surgical floor, in Munson Medical Center’s peri-anesthesia area, and as a nurse at the Smith Family Breast Health Center. She knew she was ready for the role.

“Being a cancer survivor myself I saw the value in being able to help patients with their cancer journey – 
helping them to understand their diagnosis, treatment plan, and to offer support,” she said. The job also meant completing her four-year nursing degree – which she did through Western Governor’s University.

Stepping Up to Meet Needs

In nominating Linda for the award, Rebecca said Linda’s drive to obtain her degree, learn a new role, and provide exemplary care for her patients was amazing. She also has stepped up during the pandemic to support her patients and colleagues.

“This year Linda not only adapted her role throughout the pandemic to meet the unique needs of her breast cancer patients using innovative ways to connect during a time when in-person visits were not permitted, but she took on the challenge of covering another oncology nurse who needed to be off for an extended period to care of a loved one at the end of life,” she said. “This dual responsibility of being a primary nurse and the breast health nurse navigator was a great asset to the team and the patients. It was truly remarkable.”

In addition to her oncology nursing duties, Linda has also dedicated time to providing COVID-19 vaccinations to patients and community residents.

'A Very Special Award'

Linda characterizes her “Nurse of the Year” designation as an honor and privilege.

“Oncology nurses are a special group of people who are truly like a family and are dedicated to their patients, jobs, and love the work they do. I am glad to be a part of this family,” she said. “In a year that was filled with turmoil, I am glad that I was able to be there for my patients when they needed the support more than ever, and also for my community. This is a very special award which I will cherish forever.”