Nightingale Award Winner - Pamela S. Hinds, RN, Ph.D., FAAN
A Big Voice for Small Patients
Pamela S. Hinds, PhD, RN, FAAN
Sometimes they want a back rub. They might want to chat about their fingernails. Most of all, they want to be heard. They are young cancer patients. And they have a strong advocate in Pamela S. Hinds, RN, Ph.D., FAAN, a nurse researcher at Children’s National Hospital.
Pamela performs pediatric oncology research that enhances patient outcomes and improves nursing practices. Over the course of her long career, she has had many emotional experiences with young patients and has really learned to listen to them.
“There are so many children whose faces and stories stay with me,” Pamela said. She recalled one young woman who had acute lymphocytic leukemia and experienced several recurrences requiring multiple bone marrow transplants. “I would end each day with a few quiet moments with her. It would soothe her so much when I would just rub her back,” she remembered.
Pamela also recollected a teen girl with a rebellious spirit and an extremely aggressive form of cancer. The girl tried desperately to find something positive. “She would say to me, let’s talk about the one part of my body that’s normal: my fingernails. So we would talk about her fingernails,” Pamela recalled.
For Pamela, the diverse stories of the many children she has treated are what motivates her research. As the principal investigator for a number of federally funded grants, Pamela can amplify children’s voices to help them get better, more compassionate care.
“For many years, we didn’t ask children questions,” noted Pamela. “We never asked them what it was like to be receiving cancer treatment. We just delivered the treatment.”
Pamela and her team created a comprehensive set of questions to help care providers talk to—and understand—seriously ill children. The questions are now available for use across the country via the National Cancer Institute of the United States.
Speaking of the emotional challenges of her field, Pamela admits, “It’s very painful. But I believe in the power of love. And I see love every day—the love of a parent for a child, and a child for a parent, and also of staff to children and children to staff. That’s an amazing thing.”
That is amazing, and so is Pamela S. Hinds.