DIRECCT Talk: Nurse’s Compassion Guides Patients on Their Cancer Journey

In this week’s DIRECCT Talk, Karen Scanlon Henry shares the source of her commitment to excellence, compassion and teamwork — being able to support patients and their families at one of the most vulnerable times of their lives.

As a hematology-oncology nurse at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at Kendall, Karen Scanlon Henry, ARNP, AOCNP, touches people’s lives every day.

“It is very rewarding for me to be able to help patients at one of the most vulnerable points of their lives, and guide them and their family members through their cancer journey,” she said.

In her daily work, Henry focuses on the University of Miami Common Values of excellence, compassion and teamwork.

“At Sylvester, we deliver the highest level of care to cancer patients in a very compassionate way,” she said. “We also have a great team that goes above and beyond the call of duty to provide support to our patients and families. We educate them about their options and make sure they are well informed every step of the way.”

Since joining the Miller School of Medicine in 2002, Henry has worked in radiation oncology as well as medical oncology. In her current role, she helps train student nurse practitioners, and has developed an Oral Chemotherapy Adherence Clinic. “Along with caring for patients, we are a revenue-producing department that supports other functions at UM, such as medical research,” she said.

A native of Miami, Henry grew up in Coral Gables in a ’Canes family, going to UM football games every fall.

“My dad went to the University of Miami, and my mom worked at the law library,” said Henry, who earned her B.S. in nursing from UM in 1983 and her M.S. in nursing in 2004. Her son Erik is a senior engineering student at UM, as well. “I’m one of those people who bleed orange and green.”

Henry says she loves being a nurse because there are so many different ways to help patients and families, while being able to grow and develop as a health care professional.

“I started at Jackson Memorial Hospital as a labor and delivery nurse,” she said. “Since then, I’ve been a school nurse, a pediatrics nurse and a nurse manager, as well as working in oncology-hematology.”

Reflecting on her current role, Henry said she’s inspired each day by her patients, particularly those with terminal cancer.

“Not everyone with cancer gets better, so we try to make each day of their journey as meaningful as possible for them,” she said. “With our team, they know they’re not alone.”

DIRECCT Talk focuses on the ways faculty and staff exemplify the DIRECCT values — diversity, integrity, respect, excellence, compassion, creativity and teamwork — that drive UM’s culture.

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