Nurse Manager for Cancer Services
For Karin Leppanen, RN, nursing is truly an inspired path.
Pre-med when she started college, Karin switched her focus to nursing after being inspired by her aunt, a nurse. Her aunt’s motivation to study nursing? Karin. Whose childhood illness resonated with her and drove her to pursue health care.
But inspiration wasn’t just the impetus for Karin to begin her career — it’s what motivates her every day. “I’m humbled every day by the oncology patients,” Karin says. “It’s truly an honor to work with a patient and their family. It’s amazing to me how much trust they put in the staff from the moment they meet us. They really open their arms and see us as an extension of their family.”
Karin is Nurse Manager for Cancer Services, Beverly and Addison Gilbert Hospitals and oversees the staff who work with the patients and physicians, including infusion room nurses, practice nurse navigators, and scheduling staff. Her main day-to-day responsibility is to ensure everyone is doing what needs to be done to meet the needs of the patients. But sometimes patients are anxious or unsure of what they need when arrive for the day, so her first task is to decipher what those needs are.
“I think I’m good at extracting from patients and their families when they come in during a stressful situation, what it is that they need from us,” Karin says. “I’ll tell them, ‘let’s dig a little bit deeper. Let’s talk about what’s really driving your concerns and what do you need from us today.’ I make sure the patient hears that we’re open to whatever it is they need.”
The complexity of an oncology patient’s needs is one reason why Karin is so excited about the Lahey Health Cancer Institute. Having an expanse of expertise across a number of specialties and campuses allows for frequent and open communication to discuss cases and to share best practices. This is turn helps provide patients with the best care possible. Karin takes tremendous pride in the Institute’s focus on putting the patient at the center of everything it does, with a strong focus on building and nurturing the patient-caregiver relationship.
“A true, meaningful relationship with a patient:” she says, “It’s something you take home with you every day and something that makes you want to come back to work.”