Laughter, love for his job, make this nurse a patient favorite
"You take care now," Trinity oncology nurse Dan Moore says from his office to a man walking past the large window between his desk and the hallway. His door is open only slightly, out of deference to the visitor sitting across from him. In a few moments another man walks past, hanging onto his wife's arm. He sees Moore, waves, and smiles.
Who are these people? "Oh, just some of my patients," the 48 year-old Rock Island native says. "I got into nursing because I like people. I enjoy meeting them, and I particularly enjoy helping them."
Moore first attended nursing school at what used to be called Lutheran Hospital School of Nursing, before it became Trinity School of Nursing. After that he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from Mid-American University in Olathe, Kansas.
For five years he worked as a bedside nurse on what was then Trinity's oncology floor. "If you're looking for the truly hardworking health-care professionals, you don't need to look any further than bedside nurses," Moore says. "They're the ones in the trenches, doing the important work." Moving to oncology radiation in his sixth year, Moore has been in radiation for 17 years, a position he clearly loves.
"Much has changed since I first started in nursing," Moore continues. "There is tremendous hope these days in the cancer field. It's no longer all sadness. We've come a long way in treating cancer. We have better ways of delivering radiation, better chemotherapy, and better medicines to keep people from being sick while undergoing treatment."
"Hey, Dan, how's it goin'?" comes a voice from the hallway. Another patient moves slowly past Moore's window toward the front doors, on his way home after a radiation treatment.
"A lot of what I do is about connecting with the patient," Moore says reflectively. "We do more than simply fill out a form with the patient's health history. We talk to family members. We help to work out transportation issues and insurance issues. Sometimes we have people who have neither family nor insurance, and we work with them to make sure they receive the best possible treatment and support."
"Cancer is a scary thing," he continued. "Consequently a large part of my job is educating the patient. They have every right to know what to expect from their treatment. In addition to talking to them we make sure they have written materials and we often refer them to helpful web sites if they have computers. The best patient is an educated patient." Moore laughs easily, genuinely. It's clear why patients and co-workers like his company and counsel.
"Here's what I've learned from my patients," he says. It may sound trite and simplistic, but it's absolutely true ... I've learned that each day is a gift. Each day that you can get up, put your clothes on, and go out into the world you've been given a gift."
Out in the hallway two men stop in front of Moore's window. One looks at Moore, holds up two fingers in the shape of a large ‘C' and slowly closes them together, indicating his tumor has shrunk considerably. Moore smiles and gives him a hearty thumbs-up.
A gift indeed.