Honoring Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey Nurses

May is Oncology Nursing Month

Sondra Patella headshotJulianne Dean headshot
Sondra J. Patella, MSN,RN, APN-C (left) and Julianne Dean RN, BSN, OCN (right)

New Brunswick, N.J., May 10, 2022 – At Rutgers Cancer Institute, New Jersey’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, oncology nurses play a vital role in the care of cancer patients, engage in research and serve as an education resource for their peers. To recognize the scope of their work, two nurses are named recipients of Rutgers Cancer Institute’s ‘Oncology Nursing Excellence Awards’ during Nurses Week each year. This year’s award recipients were named during the annual Elizabeth Gibby Osborne Lecture today. 

Sondra J. Patella, MSN,RN, APN-C, advanced practice nurse at Rutgers Cancer Institute was selected by colleagues as one of this year’s Oncology Nursing Excellence Award recipients. She currently serves as the inpatient advanced practice nurse for surgical services covering more than 10 physicians.  Patella’s nursing career spans decades, and according to her peers, she “has established herself as an anchor of surgical services” through the years. Patella is also described as an integral part of the team, “whose mentorship and leadership has helped to guide young physicians in their surgical training.” Advanced practice nurses are clinical leaders managing complex patient issues across the trajectory of care, and her colleagues say she is an outstanding clinician who accomplishes this flawlessly: “Her knowledge, consistency, and steadiness provide stability and leadership to the inpatient service, assuring that students, residents, and new floor nurses integrate seamlessly with the service and that there are no breaks in the continuity of patient care.” Patella’s peers note that her sunny demeanor and unwavering commitment to patients and colleagues makes her a cherished collaborator.  

Described by her peers as “intelligent, passionate and hardworking,” Julianne Dean RN, BSN, OCN, nurse clinician at Rutgers Cancer Institute was also chosen by colleagues as one of this year’s Oncology Nursing Excellence Award recipients. Always going out of her way to help patients and the physicians she works with, Dean is known for “going above and beyond to help patients through the challenging times of cancer care.” Dean specializes in gynecologic oncology and is described by her colleagues as “well informed about the specifics of this specialty and “has excelled in managing complex gynecological oncology patients with empathy and efficiency.” Additionally, she follows through with results, orders, appointments, and patient phone calls and doesn’t let anything fall through the cracks. She is also highly regarded for her ability to multitask and willingness to learn, with fellow nurses noting she is “meticulous in everything she does” to ensure the best care for her patients, and “Her diligence and perseverance makes her stand out from our nurses and nurse practitioners.” 

Nursing award winners standing with their certificates
Winners Sondra J. Patella, MSN,RN, APN-C (left) and Julianne Dean RN, BSN, OCN (right) stand with their awards.

The lectureship and Nursing Excellence Awards are underwritten in part by the Elizabeth Gibby Osborne Lecture and Scholarship Fund. Because of Mrs. Osborne’s strong belief in education, her husband Bill established the fund after her death from cancer in 2004 to support peer learning opportunities for oncology nurses at Rutgers Cancer Institute. This year’s Elizabeth Gibby Osborne Lecture featured Donna Cardillo, MA, RN, CSP, FAAN, who is a is a certified meditation teacher, labyrinth facilitator, Reiki Master, and Certified Forest Therapy Guide. She has 25-years of clinical, managerial, and business experience and is the author of four books including the award-winning Falling Together: How to Find Balance, Joy, and Meaningful Change When Your Life Seems to be Falling Apart. In her talk “Reclaiming Joy and Balance,” Cardillo focused on how nurses can refresh, regroup and reenergize post COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Oncology nursing is a lifelong journey of helping, healing and learning where specialized knowledge, skills and continuing education in oncology is necessary for our nursing team. This is why we value educational opportunities such as the Osborne Lecture,” notes Carla Schaefer DNP, RN, OCN, CENP, associate chief nursing officer at Rutgers Cancer Institute. “Our healthcare workers, like so many others, have been impacted immensely throughout the pandemic, so our goal with this year’s speaker was to provide an educational opportunity that focused on the important topic of mental health and purpose. We are honored to celebrate our award recipients this year and to acknowledge all of our nurses for the professionalism and dedication they bring forth every day in serving our patients and advancing the specialty.” 

About Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
As New Jersey’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Rutgers Cancer Institute, together with RWJBarnabas Health, offers the most advanced cancer treatment options including bone marrow transplantation, proton therapy, CAR T-cell therapy and complex surgical procedures. Along with clinical trials and novel therapeutics such as precision medicine and immunotherapy – many of which are not widely available – patients have access to these cutting-edge therapies at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey in New Brunswick, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey at University Hospital in Newark, as well as through RWJBarnabas Health facilities. To make a tax-deductible gift to support Rutgers Cancer Institute, call 848-932-8013 or visit www.cinj.org/giving.


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