Kimberley Roche APRN, worked in different nursing roles at a few hospitals before finding her home as a nurse practitioner in the Center for Cancer & Blood Disorders at Connecticut Children’s. Whether she’s helping patients, comforting families, reviewing labs or conducting research, Kimberley is glad that it all contributes to making a difference.

Why did you decide to become an APP?

I was a NICU/acute care nurse when I entered my APRN program, and my goal was being the follow-up provider for NICU graduates. After graduation, and with my continued interest in complex care management, I worked in an inpatient pediatric rehabilitation center where I was introduced to patients with brain tumors. This led me to my current role here are Connecticut Children’s—a professional journey filled with twists and turns, and lots of joy.

Kimberley Roche, APRN

Can you walk us through a typical day?

On my weekly neuro-oncology clinical day, I care for many brave patients with a variety of brain tumor diagnoses in different stages of their fight. During our visits together, I examine them, order labs and imaging as needed, and order chemotherapies including novel targeted therapies in conjunction with our oncologist. On another clinical day, I see patients independently in our Farmington satellite location diagnosing and treating benign hematology conditions. On a non-clinical day, I spend time working with insurance companies and pharmacies coordinating approval and ordering of chemotherapies, talking with families via phone, EPIC in-basket or email, as well as reviewing labs and imaging results.

How do you build a connection with your patients?

Even on the busiest of days, I try to remember to take a special interest in each patient whether that’s asking about a pet, a special event at school or talking about a hobby. I feel like these types of conversations help remind me that our patients are kids outside of these hospitals walls, with their own interests and personalities that transcend the boundaries of their diagnoses or prognoses.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

I feel like my work has meaning and is done in service of others, and I find that to be the most fulfilling part of my job. It gives me a sense of purpose, which aligns with my alma mater Boston College’s creed “Ite inflammate omnia,” which means Go Set the World Aflame.

What is your most memorable moment at Connecticut Children’s?

Some of my best memories while working here at Connecticut Children’s come from my routine of standing with a wheeling computer (fondly called “Wheelie”) in our infusion center hallway during the clinic day, seeing patients and intermittently chatting with my colleagues as well as patients and families as they walk by.

What role do APPs play here at Connecticut Children’s?

I often think of the APPs as the glue that holds the treatment teams together. We pride ourselves on an interdisciplinary approach to patient care here at Connecticut Children’s, and I believe the APPs to be an integral part of the necessary communication, coordination and critical thinking that goes into caring for our patients successfully.

What specific challenges have you encountered in this field of work, and how have you managed these challenges?

The work we all do is hard. There is no question about it. While challenges within one’s career are not desirable, they are to be expected— much like in life. In my times of need, being able to reflect and seek out career mentors has been helpful. There have also been times in the past when I have felt as if I were “burning out.” I had been aware enough to recognize these signs, curious enough to seek out strategies to help, brave enough to set boundaries, and lucky enough to have leadership that has been supportive of self-care.

What advice would you give to current and prospective students who are interested in becoming APPs?

My advice to future APPs would be to allow themselves to think outside of the box, write their own chapters, and follow their own plots as each career journey is unique—as in life.

How do you feel Connecticut Children’s has supported you career growth?

The two biggest clinical impacts on my career growth come from leadership support within my department. They have supported the initiation of my specialized neuro-oncology APP role—a role that was developed based on program needs as well as my own interests. This role has been supported in part by grants that we have worked with The Foundation to secure. The other is the mentorship I received from other providers, especially as it surrounds diagnosing and treating hematology patients independently, as one of the first APPs of our group to do so.

I have also grown tremendously in my confidence conducting research with support from both Michael Isakoff, MD, in my department, and Katie Hinderer, PhD, from the Institute of Nursing Research. With their guidance and mentorship, I have been the Principal Investigator of three studies here at Connecticut Children’s. I am also part of the current Nursing Research Fellowship class—a hospital based 18-month fellowship that seeks to educate and support active researchers within Connecticut Children’s.

How do patients and families inspire you?

The resilience of a child and family faced with uncertainty. The ability of even our youngest patients to accept, heal and find joy in the fight. The neuroplasticity of the brain. These are some of the most inspiring things that I am grateful to witness every day here at Connecticut Children’s.