New Nursing Grad Cares for Oncology Patients During COVID-19

June 3, 2020

Brandon LaRoche ’20 DNP is the clinical nursing director for oncology/hematology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. LaRoche is certified as a progressive care nurse (PCCN) and a professional in patient safety (CPPS). He is also a recipient of the prestigious Yale School of Nursing Gruber Nursing Fellowship.

This is part of an occasional series of Yale School of Nursing (YSN) community members sharing their COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) experiences.

YSN: How is COVID-19 affecting your life right now? 

Since I am working with immunocompromised oncology patients, I am taking extra precautions and my family took early precautions—ordering grocery deliveries, skipping in-person gatherings over a certain size, etc. That has certainly been challenging. We live in New Hampshire, and there have been some food shortages on items like eggs, bread, toilet paper, and paper towels. We have had to change meal planning and prep.

YSN: Do you find that friends and family are soliciting your expert opinion about best practices even more than usual? How so?

New Hampshire has not been hit really hard by COVID-19, so sometimes I will get questions from people I know there about why we are taking all these extra precautions in Boston. If people are not seeing COVID-19 in their own communities, they might not think it is as much of an issue. 

YSN: Are you connecting with your YSN classmates in different ways now than before the pandemic? 

“We stay in pretty close contact now, and that started with a WhatsApp group at the beginning of our coursework. We share our best tips, stories, offer mutual support, and express some camaraderie. “

I have one colleague at Mass General just down the street, but I also have classmates practicing on the West Coast in California, in Michigan, and all over the country. It can be reassuring to hear similar stories, and it is helpful to hear other perspectives. 

YSN: How are nurses and other frontline providers being recognized and acknowledged in your community? Has there been a shift since COVID-19 began?

The closer you come to Boston, there are supportive billboards and yard signs, so that has been nice to see. I think it really differs based on where you are. 

“We are really leading the charge on this. We are the last line to protect patients.” 

YSN: What are some self-care practices that people can implement during such a chaotic time?

I think it is important to try to stay healthy as best you can. Stay active. There is also a big mental health component to physical activity, too. You can also Zoom to video chat to connect with friends and family you can’t see in person. It can be helpful to focus on the activities that you like to do and concentrate on what you do have control over.