Long Journey, Rewarding End

The newest member of the Celilo Cancer Center care team says she has reached the career destination of her dreams.

The path that led Lynne Allen to Celilo Cancer Center was a long and winding one. But ask her now and she will tell you the destination is well worth the journey.

A nurse practitioner who is the newest member of the Celilo patient care team, Allen’s healthcare career has its roots in her teenage years, when she was a candystriper at her local hospital in Baker City.

But it took a while to get it started. After spending time raising a family and supporting her husband’s educational goals, Allen started thinking about entering the workforce. She thought about teaching, having enjoyed the time she spent volunteering in her children’s schools. But healthcare also intrigued her. Spending a summer caring for her dying mother-in law had opened her up to the rewards of a nursing career.

She decided on the latter, and has never looked back.

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Nurse Practitioner Lynne Allen at Celilo Cancer Center

After completing nursing school and working in direct care for several years, Allen decided she wanted to be able to expand the care she was able to offer patients, so she enrolled in the nurse practitioner program at the University of Washington. She decided to specialize in oncology and was aided by a scholarship from the National Cancer Society, Following graduation Allen accepted a position with a mentor and launched her career as a nurse practitioner.

While she loved working with patients, when Allen was given the chance to work in the administrative side of hospital care focusing on the emerging role of nurse practitioners as hospitalists, she made the change. But it wasn’t long before she started to miss the direct patient contact that she’d found so rewarding before, and she returned to caring for cancer patients.

Her career path then led her to Celilo, a move that has proved rewarding for both her and patients of the cancer center.

Allen becomes animated when she talks about the quality of care being provided at Celilo and the services and tools that are available to care providers and patients alike.

“It’s that rare place where everything you have ever wanted to use in the care of your patients is available,” she says.

One of the most attractive and important characteristics of the Celilo culture, Allen says, is the comprehensive and multidisciplinary team approach that’s employed in the care of every patient.

“When a patient hears the word ‘cancer’ it changes everything about them — their lifestyle, their family dynamic, their plans for the future,” she says. “So it is important that patients have access to a team of professionals who are skilled and experienced in treating not just the physical aspects of the disease, but the emotional and spiritual ones as well. And it is important that the patient, and loved ones, are also key members of that care team. Here, patients have access to all these outstanding professionals whose goal is to make sure they understand treatment options and can take an active role in make decisions about their own care.”

In addition to her training as a nurse practitioner, Allen is certified in palliative care, which she defines as “making sure that patients who have a serious illness have the support they need to experience the highest quality of life possible.”

Allen says she never expected to be able to pursue her career in a cancer center whose patient care philosophy so closely matched her own. “I never expected to be able to practice in a place like Celilo. It just reinforces the point that if a door opens, you need to look through it.”