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Lynn Erdman, RN, MN, OCNS, FAAN, Vice President of Community Health for Susan G. Komen for the Cure in Charlotte, N.C.

February 2013

Q. When did you decide to pursue a career in nursing and why?

A. It was in the summer during college. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do between my freshman and sophomore years, but I was an intern at the local hospital and really thought that it was an amazing place. I remember being inspired by the nurses that I saw working day-in and day-out, and that's when my interest in nursing really peaked.

After finishing nursing school, I started as a neonatal intensive care nurse. I remember being called to the director's office and thinking I had done something wrong – far from it! She was getting ready to open a cancer unit in the hospital and needed a few energetic young nurses to help out. She offered me the opportunity to help out for six months, and afterwards I could work anywhere in the hospital with any shifts I wanted. I jumped at the opportunity for better shifts, but I always thought I'd stick with childcare. Once I got a taste of oncology, however, I fell in love and never looked back.

Q. How did you become involved with Susan G. Komen for the Cure?

A. I received a community grant from the organization when I was still working in the hospital. They had assigned tasks related to nurse navigation and advocacy for breast cancer patients. That was only the beginning of my involvement with the organization, as I later volunteered to help organize their first Race for the Cure in Charlotte, N.C. I crossed paths with Susan G. Komen for the Cure several times throughout my career before finally joining them professionally.

Q. What do you enjoy most about nursing?

A. I have always loved mentoring nurses. I have had several wonderful mentors in my life, so I want to pay it forward. Any time a nurse comes to me for advice – especially as it relates to oncology as a specialty – I am happy to offer my support and guide him or her through important decisions about his or her career. I think good mentors help enrich the profession by opening up the potential in many young nurses beyond what they may have learned in nursing school.

My main passion for nursing, however, comes from helping patients and their families think through and understand their cancer diagnosis. Cancer will have a different effect on every patient, but each one faces extremely tough challenges that I do my best to help guide them through. I truly enjoy going back to my roots as a nurse by working with patients to make a difference in their lives.

Q. What has been the greatest moment in your career?

A. My work to help create the Presbyterian Cancer Center in Charlotte stands out as the most significant event in my career. To help build it from the ground up and see what it does for patients and their families – as well as the practitioners working in it – is definitely a great moment for me.

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