As both a cancer patient and an oncology nurse, Kathleen Solari ’06, RN, BSN, OCN, has extensive knowledge that reflects her personal and professional experiences. Diagnosed with cervical cancer in 1999, with a recurrence in 2013, Solari has endured surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. She is now cancer-free and is helping others battle the disease.
In April, Solari will be recognized with the 2019 Excellence in Radiation Therapy Nursing Award from the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS). Serving as a radiation oncology nurse manager at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center–NJ, for over eight years, Solari has educated and supported patients and been a role model for other nurses whom she has mentored throughout her three-decade career. This dedication to her profession is reflected by the fact that the administrator of the Kimmel Cancer Center nominated Solari for the national award.
“The faculty of the Division of Nursing is extremely proud that one of our alumna has been recognized with such a high honor,” states Jane Tang, PhD, RN, NE-BC, chair and professor Division of Nursing. “Kathy is a testament to the dedicated nurses who make a difference in patient’s lives every day.”
With a busy schedule, Solari decided to enroll in Immaculata’s accelerated RN to BSN cohort held at Methodist Hospital in Philadelphia. While attending classes, she continued working at the Kennedy Cancer Center (now Jefferson Health) in addition to a second job conducting home IV therapy. With her solid background in nursing, Solari continued to soak up knowledge and new skills in the RN to BSN program.
“I learned something new in every class from either the professors or presentations from classmates,” she says.
One particular assignment that still resonates with her is a group project to research healthcare in San Francisco. She remembers researching the homeless population and finding the topic so intriguing that she continues to have conversations with colleagues about it today. She appreciates the mentoring that she received from the faculty, especially Connie Phillips-Jones who helped develop Solari’s knowledge and confidence, both professionally and personally.
By orienting and mentoring new nursing staff at Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, along with involvement in safety and quality, Solari is positively influencing the next generation of nurses.
“I have been an RN for 33 years and I have had great mentors all throughout my career, I truly hope nurses I have worked with will say I have been a great mentor,” Solari says.
Along with mentoring, another of Solari’s main roles is to educate patients about what they can expect when they require radiation therapy. She discusses daily routines, side effects and how to management the side effects. She explains that she and the other members of the cancer team constantly anticipate the patient and family needs in order to remove barriers to their care and provide needed support.
“Oncology is my passion. It’s amazing to be honored for something that comes naturally to me,” Solari says of the ONS nursing award.