Joan Scagliola, MSN, RN, serves as system senior director of outpatient oncology and hospital ambulatory clinical services at NYU Langone Health’s Perlmutter Cancer Center. She joined Perlmutter Cancer Center in 2004 as a nurse manager and rose through the ranks before her appointment in 2020 as senior director of outpatient oncology and hospital ambulatory services.
Here, she discusses her role as director of outpatient oncology, the changes she has seen in the care of people with cancer, and more.
What is your role as director of outpatient oncology?
I am responsible for all the clinical programs that take place under Perlmutter Cancer Center, which include clinical nursing and advanced practice providers (nurse practitioners and physician assistants), pharmacy, laboratory, integrative health, and genetic counseling.
I also work with the director team and the senior director teams to ensure that we standardize care across all the network sites so that regardless of where a person is treated, the same standard of NYU Langone Health care is provided. For example, in the infusion centers or in genetic counseling, we have staff members who cross multiple sites, so we make sure that all of the sites meet the same standard for patient care and safety.
You joined Perlmutter Cancer Center in 2005. What changes have you seen over the years in terms of care for people with cancer?
First, we have expanded access to cancer care for more people in New York City and the surrounding areas. When I first started here, we had one cancer center in Manhattan, which provided ambulatory care only. In the years that I have been here, we have expanded to Rego Park in Queens, as well as to sites in Lake Success and Huntington on Long Island. The recent merger with NYU Winthrop, which produced NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island, has enabled us to provide care to people in Mineola. In Brooklyn, we have sites in Midwood and Sunset Park, and we are looking to establish a new program in Cobble Hill in 2023.
One major change for people with cancer has been the ability to provide many of our treatment modalities in the outpatient setting. The choices that patients have for treatment, from surgery to radiation to medical oncology, have grown over the years. There has been a dramatic shift to include more types of immunotherapies as opposed to just putting everyone on a chemotherapy regimen. We are also able to diagnose cancers on a very specific level. Instead of just telling someone, for example, that they have colorectal cancer, we can really hone in on their specific tumor type to personalize treatment.
What have you accomplished in your role as director of outpatient oncology that has resulted in improved care for people with cancer and improved their experience?
As I mentioned earlier, the standardization of care across network sites has had a major impact on the care that people receive. Our integrative health services also make a difference for cancer patients. We offer chair massages, yoga, and a high-impact fitness program. We also have a number of wellness programs that we can provide to patients during their treatment and as part of the Survivorship Program.
Our infusion clinics are open seven days a week, so patients can opt to get treatments on the weekends if that is more convenient for them.
I have a background in nursing, and I am very proud of the high quality of nursing care that we have. Our nurses collaborate well with all the different specialties. We have a high-level pharmacy and laboratories, and we try to keep everything as current as possible. There is also great collaboration within modalities that treat patients.
This past summer we launched an ambulatory care nurse residency program, in which newly licensed nurses begin working in the ambulatory care area. This is a new approach for us. In the past, most new nurses have worked in an inpatient oncology setting before they come to an outpatient area. This year we hired our first new nursing graduate to work within our infusion center here in Manhattan. With all the changes that are happening in oncology, we think that through the ambulatory care nurse residency program we can better transition new nurses to outpatient care and provide the clinical experience that a new nursing graduate needs.