Flynn Fellowship Helps Students Tap into Joys and Challenges of Oncology Nursing

Graduation ceremonies for the Susan D. Flynn On¬cology Nursing Development Program at the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute at Hartford Hospital are joyful occasions. Nurses-to-be confidently present the findings of their research on improving patient care. Their mentors and veteran nurses enthusiastically share all that the fellows contributed while immersing themselves in learning to care for cancer patients. And parents and friends at the ceremony delightedly soak it all in.

Frederick C. Flynn Jr. is the man who laid the groundwork for the inspiring ceremonies marking the milestone in the rigorous training program. The Stamford resident started the program at Greenwich Hospital in 2014 in loving memory of his wife Susan and to honor the expert, compassionate care she received while being treated for ovarian cancer.

Since 2014, the program has grown to more than 30 internships in partnership with 17 nursing schools and nearly a dozen hospitals across the country. More than 200 have completed the training program.

In August, Jason Kilcoyne of the University of Connecticut and Nina Nevarez and Emilee Tirino, who both attend the University of Saint Joseph, joined 13 “Flynn Fellows” who have completed the program at Hartford Hospital. Of the 12 in the workforce, five are oncology nurses at Hartford, Flynn said.

“Hartford Hospital is a shining example of the success of program,” he said.

The fellows agree the program is invaluable.

“Being empathetic is something you can’t learn unless you go out and be in patient care,” Kilcoyne said. “This fellowship is well thought out. You go through so much in the hospital that you develop without really knowing it. Now that I am at the end, I feel like I can go back to school and be a better nurse.”