More than 35 years into her Hutchinson Center career, Clinical Research Division nurse Jane Jocom is still caring for patients — though not in the same way she did when she began.
Jocom, who coordinates clinical trials for stem-cell transplant patients within the Long-Term Follow-Up (LTFU) Program, started out in the 1970s as a nurse in the intensive-care unit in the transplant ward, a position she held for about 10 years.
When the Center began to conduct a greater number of clinical trials, the need for a research nurse arose, and Jocom was recruited.
Since 1986, she has worked coordinating and implementing research trials — determining patients' eligibility, monitoring protocol compliance and toxicities, making sure trials conform to regulations and collecting data from the trials to use for assessing new treatments.
One of the things Jocom likes about the duties she has had over the course of her career is the variety. "My work is so different and yet so tied together," she said. "It's still patient care."
Although Jocom no longer provides bedside care, she plays key roles setting up patients with appropriate trials, ensuring their safety during trials, answering questions, helping them find funding when necessary, and generally supporting studies that aim to refine and improve cancer treatment.
Part of the reason Jocom moved into research was the potential she saw for her first trial to help patients. Working with Dr. Keith Sullivan, the principal investigator, Jocom coordinated a pioneering trial that showed intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) reduces infection in transplant patients. Because bone-marrow transplant patients can be especially susceptible to infections, boosting their immune systems with products like IVIG is of great value, she said.
That first study was a success, and launched Jocom's new career direction. She said helping patients is central to her job satisfaction. She enjoys the opportunities she has for developing long-term relationships with patients due to the nature of her follow-up work. She feels special satisfaction when patients acknowledge these long-term links.