Karen Conway, Clinical Research Nurse
As a Clinical Research Nurse at the Smilow Cancer Hospital North Haven and Guilford Care Centers, Karen Conway sees patients with all different disease types. A nurse since 1986, Karen saw the opportunity to work in oncology with the opening of the Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Centers, and discovered a new passion. In her role she works with patients, physicians, APRN's, infusion nurses, and all staff essential to the process of administering clinical trials to patients.
The trials available in North Haven and Guilford run the gamut. A large portion of them are for locally advanced or metastatic disease, but also first line neoadjuvant trials, and phase I. The three main cancers that they see are breast, GI, and lung. Hematology trials have also recently started there as well. Karen meets with patients and plays a large part in education. She makes sure patients understand the trial that they are on, what the drugs involved are, and side effects they may experience. An important point with oral drugs that patients will be taking at home, is that there are side effects they need to be aware of, and also drug interactions. "I really enjoy working with this patient population. The Care Centers have grown incredibly and continue to expand. It is great to be able to offer these state-of-the-art clinical trials to people in the community that might otherwise not have access to them," said Karen.
Karen has to take into account all the logistics of starting a trial at a Care Center. They participate in the feasibility assessment and give feedback as to whether or not a particular trial can be managed given the set-up of the Care Center. When Karen first started there were 5 trials available, now there are 30. As part of the Clinical Trials Workflow Group, led by Monica Fradkin, RN, MPH, Oncology Nursing Education Coordinator, Karen works to increase communication between the Care Centers and the main hospital. She works with different disease team leaders and provides feedback and insight based on what they are experiencing. Last year Karen was nominated for the 5th Annual Oncology/Research Nursing Award For Clinical Excellence as recognition for her hard work and dedication.
Dr. Jeremy Kortmansky, an oncologist at the Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Center at North Haven, commented, "Karen is an essential and extraordinary nurse working tirelessly to build the research programs in the Care Centers, which is no easy task.