Kim Sikorski’s 22-year nursing career at Sarah Bush Lincoln has prepared her for her new role as a hospitalist for people undergoing cancer treatment. She is an advanced practice provider and liaison between hospitalized patients and medical oncologists.
“When people with cancer are hospitalized for other illnesses or surgeries, they often have more concerns. They’re concerned about how the treatments will affect their cancer care and how medications may interact with ongoing chemotherapy or immunotherapy. It’s my job to make sure their doctors know what’s going on and reassure patients in their care,” Sikorski explained.
Sikorski believes that her earlier nursing experiences have better prepared her for this new career path. She worked as a bedside nurse on the medical-surgical units, in critical care, in quality and risk management, and as an extra set of hands when needed in the Regional Cancer Center.
“During my time in the Regional Cancer Center, I saw how amazing its team is and the care it provides. I knew I wanted to do that again someday,” she explained.
Once she earned her advanced practice degree, she split her time caring for patients in the Emergency Department and as a hospitalist caring for inpatients.
“I’ve had some really good experiences. Throughout all my nursing years and the past three years, I’ve had the opportunity to take care of many oncology patients. I can see when they come into the hospital, there’s a lot of anxiety that comes along with it, a lot of unknowns for them,” she said. “They don’t know what the illness or treatment will do to their treatment regimen, and they want to stay connected to their oncology team. They want their oncology team to know they are hospitalized and have them be involved in their care. I am excited to be in this role and help them stay connected and to contribute to things on this side of their care.”
“I’m the one who will see them while they are hospitalized and work collaboratively with their oncologists to keep them abreast of what’s going on and make sure it’s a seamless transition,” she explained. Her experience in the emergency department makes her an excellent resource when the team has oncology or hematology concerns.
“When people find out they may have cancer, they want some reassuring answers and want to know what to expect. I’m able to give that special touch of letting them know their oncologist knows what’s going on and will be in touch with them,” she said.
Shortly after becoming a nurse, her sister was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Former SBL Medical Oncologist Ned Hoppin, MD, took the time to answer her questions. When chemotherapy training became available at SBL, Sikorski pursued it. “I just enjoyed learning about oncology and working with the patients. They have so much strength and