How long have you been with the Department of Otolaryngology?
I started with the department in October, 2001 as a clinical nurse coordinator. Prior to that I served as a nursing supervisor in the ENT department at SLU for three years. I’ve been blessed to work for some of the finest physicians in our specialty while I’ve been here, including Drs. Chole and Nussenbaum, and currently Drs. Zevallos and Puram.
Is it difficult being an oncology nurse?
It is a very demanding and yet rewarding experience to be an oncology nurse. All of our ENT specialties have complex cases that require devoted nursing, but I don’t think most are as sick as head and neck cancer patients. It really demands the best of a nurse to work with these patients over and over again.
I have certainly had the opportunity to learn from this experience. Most of my time here has been spent with Dr. Brian Nussenbaum. He was a wonderful mentor; I always felt like I could ask questions. Now working with Drs. Zevallos and Puram, I’m learning even more. Working with the best doctors has a way of keeping you on your toes.
You were honored a few years ago by St. Louis Magazine as the top oncology nurse in St. Louis. Can you tell us how that came to be?
That really was quite an honor. I was nominated for that award along with other very deserving nurses in the field of oncology. I had to go through an interview process and write an essay about my role in patient care. When I saw who was ultimately listed as finalists in that category, I didn’t think I had a chance of winning. It was a very exciting evening.
I am equally proud of my CORLN nursing certification. After working as a registered nurse in otorhinolaryngology for three years and a minimum of 2,000 hours, a nurse can sit for the certification exam offered by the Society of Otorhinolaryngology and Head/Neck Nurses in order to become a Certified Otorhinolaryngology Nurse (CORLN). I have maintained that certification ever since.
Who is Diane Athmer when she’s not treating cancer patients?
I most enjoy spending time with family and relaxing at our cabin. My husband Dan and I have three daughters who have blessed us with five grandchildren and one on the way. Family get togethers are sometimes a little chaotic but always filled with love. I also love to travel and my husband and I try to schedule at least one or two trips each year where we can enjoy hiking, four-wheeling and horseback riding. I am always ready for an adventure!