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Certified oncology nurse Stephanie Lett was recently awarded USA Mitchell Cancer Institute’s first Daisy Award. The Daisy Award honors extraordinary, compassionate, skillful care provided by nurses. Recipients of this internationally-recognized award are selected based on patient and staff nominations.
Those who know her say Lett’s attitude makes her an exceptional nurse. She sees every patient as her family.
“The way I treat patients is how I treat my mother,” Lett says. “The same love that they (patients) get, that’s what I give to my family. That’s what draws me in.”
Supervisor and fellow nurse Lynn Collins describes Lett as smart, fast and a natural leader in the Infusion Suite, a division of USA Medical Center located at MCI, where patients receive chemotherapy. “Stephanie’s attitude is to come here to do whatever needs to be done,” Collins says. “It’s all about the patient.”
Lett, 55, says she was drawn to nursing at a young age. “I remember when I was a little girl, and I wanted to play nursing, I’d ask my older sister to play with me,” she says. “I’d have to wash her dishes to get her to play nursing with me.”
Lett also remembers visiting family in Memphis during the summers when she was 11 or 12 years old. “There was this lady who lived across the street, and she had these swollen legs, and I went to help her every year,” she says. “It was just in me to take care of her during the summer, to spend time with her.
“I guess it was in my blood,” she adds.
In 1986, Lett realized her goal of becoming a nurse – an LPN. Through continual education, she earned her RN, taking extra effort to learn about oncology even though at that time, nurses could not work with chemotherapy.
“I’ve learned so much in oncology,” Lett says. In fact, a thirst for unending learning is another aspect of Lett’s attitude that makes her stand out. She is one of 11 MCI nurses who have completed the rigorous coursework to become oncology certified, a designation she earned in 2000.
Lett began working in the Infusion Suite in April 2009.
“I just feel like I have so much to learn. If I get great, there’s no where else to go, so I always look to see if I can do my job better to make the patients happy,” she says. Lett continually challenges herself, asking: “How can I do this IV better? How can I do this port better? What can I do to help my co-workers better?”
Before work each day, Lett says she prays, “I pray to God, let me show your light when I go to work. Let me show your light, not mine.”
This light shines through Lett’s joy in her work and in helping patients, and while it may be no surprise to others that Lett earned the Daisy Award, Lett was surprised when she was selected during National Nurses Week in May.
“That was … very touching -- to know that your co-workers feel the way they feel about you and that patients (do),” she says. “I don’t feel like I deserve it because I don’t feel like I do anything different than anyone else.”
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