Loyola University Chicago

Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing

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From Diagnosis to Distinction: How a Graduate Nursing Student Changed Her Career Path and Found Her Passion for Oncology

From Diagnosis to Distinction: How a Graduate Nursing Student Changed Her Career Path and Found Her Passion for Oncology

Kiera Hobbs never thought she would work in oncology nursing.  But after her mother-in-law was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Kiera was intrigued with the field.   


“I fell in love with the specialty and it has been the best decision of my career,” says Hobbs.  


It was a turning point for Hobbs, who started her nursing career in intensive care and worked closely with the anesthesia team for several years, before realizing she wanted to pursue a different direction. “I didn’t like being confined to a procedure room and I missed interacting with patients,” says Hobbs, who began looking for graduate nursing programs with an oncology focus.  

That’s when she found Loyola.  

Hobbs chose Loyola’s graduate nursing program because of its in-depth, advanced oncology focus and the ability to enroll in the program as an online student“It is a challenge to find an oncology focus because very few nursing programs offer an oncology specialty in their advanced practice programs,” says Hobbs, who lives and works in Lexington, Kentucky 

Program Director Patricia FriendPhD, APN-CNS, AOCNS, AGN-BCworks closely with students like Hobbs to provide a strong foundation that will allow them to seamlessly transition into advanced practice role and make a difference in the lives of the patients and families in their care.    

Under Friend’s mentorship and guidance, Hobbs received the American Cancer Society’s Graduate Scholarship in Cancer Nursing Practice award in 2020, a highly competitive grant that will help financially support her graduate education.  

“I am a passionate champion for oncology nursing specialty education at the graduate level and am absolutely exhilarated when I learn that a student has received an outstanding score and is eligible for funding support,” Friend says.  

Hobbs is extremely honored to receive the award and credits much of her success to the mentors who have encouraged and inspired her throughout her Loyola education “I want to have an impact on quality care,” says Hobbs. “We need to have better discussions with patients about goals of care and the reality of their diagnosis. Most patients need better symptom management throughout their cancer trajectory, but especially near the end of life.  If we can better manage symptoms, then we can keep patients out of the emergency department and hospital and at home where they want to be. That is quality care.” 

While Hobbs currently works as an RN in outpatient infusion at Baptist Health Lexingtonupon graduation, she plans to transition to an Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist role, where she can make an impact on patients who, like her, know the toll cancer takes on a family. 

To learn more about Loyola’s Oncology Nursing Specialty and how to apply, contact Program Director Patricia Friend, PhD, APN-CNS, AOCNS, AGN-BC, at pfriend@luc.edu