Published on October 17, 2016

5 Questions with Betsy Rice, Nurse Navigator

By Stamford Health Staff

Betsy Rice, Nurse Navigator The Bennett Cancer Center has recently expanded its nurse navigation program to add an oncology-certified Women’s Health nurse navigator, Betsy Rice. In addition to working with patients who have breast cancer, she will work with women who are diagnosed with gynecological cancers. Learn more about Betsy’s background and why she enjoys working with those with cancer.

Q: Welcome (back) to Stamford Hospital! You started your nursing career many years ago at Stamford Hospital. What do you enjoy most about working here?
A: I admire the commitment the hospital has to its patients – the number of staff and resources offered here is tremendous. In integrative oncology, there’s social work, nutrition, yoga, tai chi, therapeutic massage, reiki, reflexology, music, art and a post-treatment exercise program. There are many different programs patients can utilize that can help them heal. These are services that really encompass the whole person, in addition to the excellent care patients receive from their physicians. Our physicians don’t just treat the disease, they treat the patient as a whole. It’s important that for our patients, dealing with what can be a scary and life-altering diagnosis, we as care-givers go the extra step to identify their emotional and personal needs to provide support in those parts of their lives, too.

Q: What made you become a nurse? What do you like most about your job?
A: I wanted to make a difference. As a nurse, you get to make a difference in a person’s life every day. Even the little things matter and can make a patient’s journey a little bit easier. It is a privilege and honor when a patient allows me to be a part of their journey. Our bond can help ease their distress and I like that I can help make things a little bit easier for them.

Q: What is most challenging about being a nurse navigator and how do you overcome that?
A: What’s hardest about my job is realizing that you’re not going to be able to fix all of the problems in our patients’ lives. As you develop these relationships, you are there for them every step of their way during their care, and it makes you want to help them fix everything else. I think it’s really hard to realize that we have limitations.

Q: Explain your role as the new Oncology Nurse Navigator and what support you provide patients.
A: My title includes “Women’s Health” because, in addition to helping patients who have breast cancer, I will be working with women who have gynecological cancers. My role is to be a resource for the patient. That means I’m there to help educate them about what to expect and what the next step is going to be. I act as a liaison between physicians, patients and family members. I can help answer their questions and clarify what the doctor has told them. I also help coordinate appointments and refer patients to beneficial resources, such as our integrative medicine program. A nurse navigator is somebody who’s there for patients from the beginning to help in any way possible so they know they’re not alone.

Q: You’ve worked with many patients with cancer over the years. What have they taught you?
A: I’ve taken care of hundreds of patients during my career. Each is different, but every one of them finds the incredible strength within themselves to get through their journey – whatever their particular journey may be. Because every journey is different. They find this strength and often then in turn help and reassure other patients. It’s incredible. They’re so strong that it pushes me to always do a better job. It inspires me to keep going and help them as much as I can.