Updated: Dec 14, 2021
Michelle Tripp and Deb Stenberg, Registered Nurses in Memorial Hospital’s Chemotherapy and Infusion department, are both ONS (Oncology Nurses Society) Chemo/Biotherapy Certified. Deb has taken her certification one step further to obtain her ONCC Certification (Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation). Both women turned their nursing focus to chemotherapy early in their careers after caring for family members and friends who battled cancer.
In 2007 Deb began to orientate to the infusion department at Memorial and joined the ONS and began to pursue her Chemo/Biotherapy Certification. It is a requirement of Memorial that any nurse administering chemotherapy independently be certified. By late 2008 Deb had obtained her certification. Michelle became certified in 2016 after several months of training in the department. Certification requires a specific number of experience hours and the completion of an online based class on basic chemotherapy administration principles and an intensive lesson on chemotherapy drugs and their side effects. At the end of the course of study, a test must be passed to earn the certificate. Both women successfully passed their respective courses. Renewal is required every 2 years, which entails updates, and a review followed once again by a test.
In 2015 Deb decided to obtain her nationally recognized ONCC certification. This additional certification is based on years of experience hours and includes a more intense knowledge of the many aspects of cancer treatments, the disease itself, prevention and care required throughout the disease spectrum. At the completion of the course, monitored testing at a facility is conducted and must be passed. Similar to the Chemo/Biotherapy Certificate, the ONCC certificate must be renewed every 4 years. Deb has successfully renewed her certification for 2019. Both, Deb and Michelle also attend regular meetings with the Southeast Missouri Chapter in Cape Girardeau to keep up to date with the latest information.
Michelle and Deb are a valued part of Memorial’s Chemotherapy team. Through their certification, Memorial is able to provide the same services locally and at the same caliber that a patient would receive at a larger, more specialized care center. The care provided by Michelle and Deb is not only fundamental to the patient but, also more intimate. “It is good that we are able to develop close bonds with our patients and their families to provide them with the best care possible,” says Michelle. The patients and families become friends to the caregivers during the course of a very difficult time in their lives. Deb adds, “Most patients can be treated closer to home with more support and convenience and not surrounded by strangers.” Being able to provide care close to home allows for the entire family to provide comfort during the process.
The whole department works together to make every patient as comfortable and welcomed as possible. They laugh with the patients, cry with them, hug them when comfort is needed and then celebrate with them at the end of their treatments. The staff treats the patients like they would want their own family to be treated. They provide more than just healthcare, they provide peace of mind to their friends and family.