As we continue to honor the incredible dedication and skills of our talented and compassionate Navvisa certified oncology nurses during National Oncology Nursing Month, we wish to spotlight Frank Dela Rama, MS, AOCNS, AGN-BC.
MEET FRANK DELA RAMA
Frank Dela Rama, MS, AOCNS, AGN-BC has been a nurse for 24 years and has focused specifically on oncology nursing for the most recent 20 of those years. Before Frank became a nurse, he received a bachelor’s in genetics working in research. While doing genetic research, Frank was inspired by the completion of the Human Genome Project and fascinated by the science around it. Frank went on to receive his Masters of Science degree from University of California San Francisco in the Clinical Nurse Specialist program in Oncology/Genomics, followed by his AOCNS (Advanced Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist) and AGN-BC (Advanced Genetic Nurse – Board Certified) degree.
What aspect of oncology nursing does Frank find most interesting?
Frank is passionate about oncology nursing as he enjoys working in a cancer care team alongside fellow nurses, MDs, admins, and all providers that touch the care plan of a cancer patient. Specifically, Frank focuses on helping prostate cancer patients. Frank’s first position in Oncology/Genomics was in radiation, treating many prostate cancer patients daily. Here his journey as a nurse navigator started with guiding men and their families through the prostate cancer treatment process. The facility in which Frank worked participated in early NIH trials looking at the formal role of the Oncology Nurse Navigator, which served to further develop the role and eventually lead to the creation of a full time position as Prostate Cancer Nurse Navigator.
“The role involved providing genetic counseling and testing for inherited risk, focusing on cancer prevention. Many of my patients today, even as they face cancer themselves, see the potential benefit of genetic testing to the family, helping their children, siblings, and many others with preventing cancer with aggressive screening or even preventative surgery as appropriate.”
The genetics of the tissue, or genomics, has quickly developed the technology where we have more in our toolbox to offer cancer patients for treatments. With all this new information available in genetics and genomics, there comes some confusion in patients and families learning about gene mutations and biomarkers. Frank explained,
“This can be overwhelming for patients, but as a navigator I have the opportunity to be a translator, explaining how the science can optimize their own care, as well as the health and wellness of family members.”
What draws Frank to oncology nursing?
During Frank’s undergraduate work he always knew he wanted to pursue a career in healthcare perhaps as a researcher, doctor, or physical therapist. When in pursuit of a post-bachelor’s program, a good friend shared her amazing experiences as a recent graduate from a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) program with him. Feeling inspired, Frank returned to school to obtain his BSN and quickly realized he had found his career for a lifetime. During school, he became increasingly aware of his own family’s medical conditions (diabetes and heart disease) and realized that by becoming a registered nurse he could not only be his family’s motivation but other families as well. Frank shared,
“It’s amazing how much the genetics of cancer impacts people facing the disease these days. It can be an overwhelming amount of information, and patients and families are expected to learn a lot in a short period of time, especially with a new diagnosis. Navigators are in prime position to help them understand how new technologies will help shape the treatment plan, in this era of precision medicine. We are there to answer questions, assess understanding, then figure out how to reinforce teaching or gather resources”
And what is a “fun fact” many people might not know?
Frank is an all-around foodie! Growing up, Frank spent his free time watching the Food Network and Iron Chef which inspired him to begin cooking as early as grade school. Frank fostered his cooking skills over the years and finds great joy cooking food for his family on the holidays. When not preparing his own dishes, Frank and his wife love to go to fine dining/Michelin star restaurants whenever possible but they also appreciate a good local hidden gem “hole in the wall” place with great food.
Additionally, Frank has formally studied piano for over ten years! He has played piano for various events including his close friends’ weddings. Music is a great form of stress relief for Frank. To take his mind off work or any difficult life issue, Frank enjoys using his electronic piano keyboard to play jazz or pop music.