Students selected for a competitive summer oncology nursing program

August 01, 2023

Isabella Ulrich ’24, and Claire Clifford ’24, working in a hospital setting

School of Nursing Flynn Fellows Isabella Ulrich ’24, and Claire Clifford ’24, spent this summer undertaking an in-depth exploration of the specialty of oncology nursing in a well-known healthcare organization.

The highly competitive, 8-week paid fellowship position is awarded to leading nursing students from prestigious universities by the Susan D. Flynn Oncology Nursing Fellowship Program. The fellowship is designed to support the best and brightest among the next generation of skilled and compassionate oncology nurses.

In June, Ulrich and Clifford joined the oncology team at Greenwich Hospital, part of Smilow Cancer Center. They completed their fellowships on July 28 by sharing evidence-based presentations developed during their experiential journey.

Flynn Fellows are given the rare opportunity to be placed in an oncology environment as nursing students, said Larry Slater, Quinnipiac’s School of Nursing dean.

“For somebody that is interested in oncology care, much like Isabella and Claire, this Flynn Fellowship is an excellent opportunity for them to gain that experience, knowledge and networking outside of the confines of our strict academic program, where they might not have had the opportunity,” said Slater. “The networking that they’re able to do before they graduate and then pursue their careers as registered nurses, gives them a distinct advantage.”

Ulrich said shadowing the palliative care team as well as surgical oncology services stand out among many memorable experiences afforded to her as a Flynn Fellow at Greenwich Hospital this summer.

“Both of those experiences were exceptional,” said Ulrich. “I loved working with the palliative care team, having those tough conversations with patients and families which are so difficult to have and to be on the receiving end of and to see the transition to hospice care. I was also with the surgical oncology team during a bilateral mastectomy. That’s something you don’t really see at nursing school because it is a specialty.”

Ulrich completed an evidence-based presentation entitled "The Benefits of Genetic Testing in the Predisposition for, and Early Detection of, Breast Cancer" as part of her fellowship.

Through her fellowship experience, Clifford developed an evidence-based presentation that followed how integrative medicine helps with the side effects of chemotherapy for cancer patients.

“When I applied, I knew it was a great internship, I just didn’t know it was going to be this good,” said Clifford. “I didn’t think I was really going to be as close to oncology patients and actually getting my hands in the field. This is honestly one of the greatest internships that I could have possibly received. I’m getting to see what my future career is going to be like.”

Clifford and Ulrich represent a growing number of Quinnipiac applicants selected each year since 2018 for the exceptional internship opportunity provided to Flynn Fellows, said Lisa Rebeschi, Quinnipiac’s School of Nursing senior associate dean.

“Many of our students try to take advantage of summer internships between junior and senior year to have that preceptor-led experience,” said Rebeschi. “But I think the fellowship is a bit different because it really allows them to delve into the specialty of oncology in a holistic way. They’re really able to look at oncology across the continuum of care, from different research and treatments to palliative care.”

Clifford said the wealth of experience she gained as a Flynn Fellow at Greenwich Hospital fits in with the holistically endorsed program of the School of Nursing.

“That’s what I love about the nursing program at Quinnipiac, and it’s done very well at Greenwich Hospital,” said Clifford.

Both students expressed continuous gratitude for the opportunity to discover more about their chosen field.

“It’s really been a wonderful experience,” said Ulrich. “I especially thank Mr. Fred Flynn, the founder of the program, for this incredible opportunity and his commitment toward fostering these special opportunities for aspiring oncology nurses.”

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