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Nursing & Family Support


Clinical Highlights

We recognize the enormous emotional impact that having a child with cancer or another life-threatening disease can have on families. That is why delivering unsurpassed patient care remains a top priority at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. We are committed to providing an unrivaled patient and family experience and have structured our clinical practices and support programs accordingly. 


Excellence in nursing care

A commitment to professional excellence is the hallmark of nursing at St. Jude. We offer an extraordinary nurse-to-patient ratio of 1:3 in Hematology and Oncology, 1:2 in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit and 1:1 in the Intensive Care Unit. Our nurses have received national recognition for extraordinary care, with our Intensive Care Unit receiving two consecutive Beacon Awards for Critical Care Excellence and our hand-hygiene rates 46 percent higher than the national average. But the highest praise occurs when our patients and families provide their feedback. That acknowledgement comes through such avenues as NCR Picker’s Path to Excellence award, which we received for having the highest ranking in patient satisfaction surveys for delivery of patient-centered care.


Peerless family-support programs

Patient- and Family-Centered Care

The family is a child’s primary source of strength and support. At St. Jude, families are crucial partners with our health care team. Our staff works hand-in-hand with families to best meet their children’s needs. We also encourage families to offer input on programs and processes that may benefit current and future patients.

Family Advisory Council

This leadership council of St. Jude parents works closely with our hospital administration to forward the ideals of patient- and family-centered care. Input from the Family Advisory Council has contributed to the design of research protocols, family-friendly buildings and streamlined patient-care processes. We are currently developing a teen patient advisory group to meet the specific needs of adolescents.

Parents Assisting, Inspiring and Reassuring (PAIR) Mentors

The PAIR Mentors program matches St. Jude parents with families of newly diagnosed patients. Mentors draw from their personal experiences at St. Jude and from the extensive training they receive from our clinicians to provide peer support and information on navigating the journey of treatment and medical care.

Child Life Program

Our Child Life specialists focus on the psychosocial needs of our patients. In addition to helping children understand their diagnoses and adapt through play, learning, self-expression, family involvement and peer interaction, Child Life specialists also provide support for siblings of patients and offer meaningful education and training opportunities for prospective child life professionals.

Quality of Life and Palliative Care

The Division of Quality of Life and Palliative Care at St. Jude provides patient- and family-centered physical, emotional and spiritual care, with the goal of attending to suffering, promoting healing and improving quality of life. These practices are integrated into the mainstream of medical care. Families receive individualized care plans that balance medical and personal goals and have access to consultations with our Quality of Life service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in clinical and home-based settings.


Selected research highlights


Overweight tumor survivors at increased risk for sleep disorders

Our research finds that obese or overweight survivors of pediatric central nervous system (CNS) tumors are more likely to have complaints of excessive daytime sleepiness and are at greater risk for sleep-disordered breathing. Additional research is underway to help develop interventions to eliminate the effects of sleep disruption on neurocognitive function, behavior and quality of life.
Pediatric Blood & Cancer, May 2012


Legacy Bead program helps children and their families cope with life-threatening illnesses

Our unique Legacy Bead program was developed to specifically address the challenges facing patients with chronic illnesses or life-threatening diseases. The program encourages families to collect colorful beads that represent procedures, visits or emotional experiences. It is one of several methods, including journaling and memory boxes, that St. Jude provides to help patients and families create tangible memorials of their treatment journeys.
Journal of Pediatric Nursing, December 2012


Intervention helps children with sickle cell disease complete MRI tests without sedation

Children who completed a short preparation program prior to their MRI scans were eight times more likely to complete the scans without being sedated than patients of the same age who did not receive the preparation. The study is the first of its kind to focus on children with sickle cell disease.
Pediatric Radiology, October 2012