MD Anderson has been a place of many firsts for Ashley Martin.
It was the first place she worked after graduating from nursing school and the site of a brand-new residency program for fledgling nurses that she joined soon after being hired. Martin was also the first nurse practitioner to join the inpatient team in Endocrinology.
“I have enjoyed every minute of my time at MD Anderson,” she says. “My experience here will be vital to my success moving forward.”
Husband’s job opportunity provides chance to transfer skills
With more than a decade of service to MD Anderson already under her belt, Martin eventually expected to retire from the institution. But her husband’s sudden job transfer led to a change of plans, and the nurse practitioner is now applying the skills she learned here to a job in the state’s capital.
“It’s very different,” Martin says of her new position. “I’m working with a general oncologist in Austin. At MD Anderson, each type of cancer practically has its own floor, but now I see a wide variety of cancers in just one setting.”
Nurse Residency program helps with ‘day-to-day realities’ of nursing
Martin began her career at MD Anderson in 2005, as a nurse in the stem cell transplant unit. “I felt drawn to it because it had telemetry and high-risk patients,” she says.
She joined the inaugural nurse residency cohort to expand her skill set. “When you graduate, you have the basics, but the school curriculum on cancer is very small,” Martin says. “The day-to-day reality of being a nurse is something you learn on the job. This program helped us with the various issues we came across, as new nurses. They held our hands a little bit.”
The residency program also jump-started Martin’s decision to pursue her master’s degree. “I was already planning to go back to school,” she says. “It was the next logical step. This just accelerated the process.”
Advance Practice Registered Nurse Fellowship provides invaluable experience
After obtaining her master’s degree in 2009, Martin applied for MD Anderson’s Advance Practice Registered Nurse Fellowship. She was one of just two new nurse practitioners chosen for that year’s cohort.
Martin and her colleague worked with physicians, other nurse practitioners and physician assistants in multiple departments to learn how to manage the various phases of a cancer patient’s care.
“Cancer is not one disease, but a lot of different diseases,” Martin says. “Spending time in each area helped me comprehend cancer as a whole and the nuances of each type. It’s important to understand what cancer does to the body, as well as what treatments do.”
One thing Martin remains extremely grateful for is the challenge of working at MD Anderson. In many ways, the job’s complexity has prepared her for just about anything she may face in the field of nursing.
“MD Anderson really keeps you on your toes, because you’re not just working with the most common problems, but also with the weird ones,” she says. “Each cancer is so different. And every case has something a little unusual about it. That’s what makes it so interesting.”