In Oct. 2022, Emily Hemmer, BSN-RN, was awarded the first annual Cholangiocarcinoma Oncology Nurse of Excellence (ONE) Award at the 4th Annual Cholangiocarcinoma Summit in Aurora, Colorado. Hemmer serves as a hepatobiliary nurse coordinator at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center. She was nominated for this award by Chief of Surgical Oncology Ryan Fields, MD, and was selected as the winner from a group of four finalists by peer votes.
The ONE award honors an outstanding oncology nurse for their dedication to patient care, education and overall excellence in the cholangiocarcinoma field. As the first recipient of the award, Hemmer stood out for her leadership, compassion and commitment to each patient in her care. Hemmer received a plaque commemorating the award to thank her for her contributions to nursing. In addition, a donation was made in her name to the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation.
Hemmer was inspired to pursue her career as a nurse coordinator after her father received a liver transplant when she was in high school. Hemmer says her father’s nurse coordinator had a memorable impact on her life and the life of her family. Since then, Hemmer has worked diligently in her career to find new ways to touch patients’ lives and guide them along their journey to recovery.
“I find gratitude in my job in knowing I am making a difference for patients and their families,” says Hemmer. “I find it rewarding to be able to help our patients during what is likely the most vulnerable point in their lives.”
During her time at the Siteman Cancer Center, Hemmer has developed a number of programs that improve outcomes, patient safety and patient education. She goes the extra mile to ensure patients have a secure understanding of what their treatment and recovery will look like – a practice the faculty and staff in the of HPB-GI surgery section have fondly deemed “The Emily Special.” When her encounters with patients were greatly limited at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hemmer found ways to connect with patients from afar to ensure they received the same quality care and education they would in person.
“Never settle,” Hemmer says. “Always push yourself for advancement – for yourself and for the patient.”
“Emily is the glue that holds our multi-disciplinary cholangiocarcinoma program together,” says Fields, who is the Kim and Tim Eberlien Distinguished Professor. Fields has worked closely with Hemmer throughout her career at Washington University says he is incredibly proud to see her contributions recognized at the national level. “She is exceptionally compassionate and an unbelievable advocate for our patients. I cannot think of a person more deserving of this award.”