By Cathy Clark
While some at this stage in their careers might think they have reached their limit, there’s much more still in the sights of Tina Mason, MSN, ARNP, AOCN, AOCNS.
Mason started with Moffitt Cancer Center 21 years ago as an oncology clinical nurse specialist and obtained her post-master’s certificate as an oncology nurse practitioner from the University of South Florida College of Nursing. Her responsibilities as a resource for inpatient, outpatient and perioperative areas evolved, propelling her to a new position as nurse researcher in 2017. Not content to simply “practice at the top of one’s license,” as many U.S. health care professionals say, Mason currently is pursuing a PhD in Nursing Research at the University of South Florida.
In 2018 she earned the Nursing Excellence in Community or Global Outreach Award, a Moffitt nursing award; it was one of her many honors. She has served as co-author or lead author on almost 20 professional papers.
She says travelling with her Moffitt colleagues to China’s International Personalized Cancer Center (IPCC) in Tianjin this summer was a career highlight. “There is a professional obligation to continue growing. Embracing opportunities will help with that,” said Mason. “But also you have a professional obligation to share your knowledge with others, and to receive knowledge from others. I felt that this trip did both.”
Mason was impressed with the premier facility in Tianjin, where she was able to give seven presentations and participate in discussion boards where the two institutions shared ideas. “It was a peer exchange, being considerate of cultural perspectives, mutually learning from each other,” Mason said.
While there, a reception team worked with Mason to translate and to make sure she found the places she needed to be. “I saw two patients in an outpatient setting. And I saw numerous inpatients.”
She says it’s important that nursing was built into the partnership plan between Moffitt and IPCC. “I really appreciate that nursing was included. It is the largest work force. And nurses are there [in the hospital] 24 hours.”
Quiet, strong and dedicated, Mason knew at a young age she would become a nurse. She even worked with a school nurse as part of an elective course during her early years. “For a long time, I was fascinated with the immune system and how it relates to cancer,” she recalled, thinking back to the fifth grade when a teacher had the students write their own obituaries. “Looking back, very morbid. But in that, I put ‘cure for cancer.’ I don’t know where that came from. No one in my family had cancer. [It was] nerdy; science,” she laughs.
While in nursing school, Mason’s career aspirations included working at a National Cancer Institute designated or a top cancer institution. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Mount Saint Mary College, followed by a Master of Science in Nursing at Yale School of Nursing. Her husband, a Tampa native, initiated their move to Florida. “So I was very fortunate that we had Moffitt here in Tampa, and the cancer center was working toward NCI designation when I got here. We got the designation shortly after I arrived.”
Although Mason has vacationed in the Caribbean, Europe and Canada, she says travelling in her profession was something she had never thought of. “I’m glad Moffitt is reaching out globally beyond the state of Florida,” she said.
And she would love to return to Tianjin, as there was so much more to discuss. “The week went by fast; it was jam packed. I look forward to future collaborations and the prospect of doing a nursing research study together. Even if I can’t physically be there, we could collaborate via email and teleconferencing.”
To anyone else given the opportunity to work abroad in a similar capacity, Mason said, “I would definitely say: Go! Go!”
With her enthusiasm and extensive training, it’s plain to see why Mason was a valuable addition to the Moffitt-IPCC visiting delegation.
This article is part of Moffitt Momentum® magazine, a publication that shares portraits of hope, innovation and triumph, all leading to the same end: beating cancer. Click here to access the full issue of the magazine in PDF format.