Jill Fargo’s 30-year career in nursing has been defined by a powerful core mission: to help patients live through and live with whatever health challenges they face. From early formative experiences as a nurse’s aide, through positions that have included staff nurse, head nurse of a pediatric unit, nursing manager, clinical director of medical and surgical services and director of acute care nursing, Fargo has been guided by her devotion to patient-centered, compassionate care. Personal experience caring for and advocating on behalf of her son, Jackson, who lost his life to brain cancer at 17, has also informed her passionate work on behalf of patients. As she leads the nursing team at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) in Goodyear, Arizona, as Vice President of Patient Care Services and the Chief Nursing Officer, Fargo maintains her commitment to advocacy, seeking always to respond to all needs with empathetic care and effective resources.
What role does advocacy play in the nursing profession?
JF: Advocacy is one of the biggest responsibilities we have as nurses and is at the core of what we do. We spend a lot of time with patients and are at the intersection of coordination of care and collaboration; it is our responsibility to reach out to meet patients’ needs. Nurses must recognize the dependence of the patient and translate that into advocacy to meet patients’ needs and deliver appropriate resources. Beyond these one-on-one relationships,
nurses also engage in advocacy efforts on behalf of patients in the public setting through work toward creating public policy that ensures that patients have access to care and
that meets communities’ health care needs. Advocacy can be very granular—intimate connections and trusting one-on-one relationships—or expansive, providing for entire
communities and large populations in need.
What inspires your personal, passionate advocacy on behalf of patients?
JF: As nurses we are taught that we must advocate for our patients. Whether instilled during my professional training and education or an innate part of me, I developed the empathy and compassion for the experience of the patient. I believe it’s my empathy that drives my passion for advocacy. When my son was diagnosed with cancer, I developed an even deeper understanding of the patients’ and caregivers’ perspective as I found myself on the other side of the bed. I made sure that if we ran into barriers, those barriers did not exist in the place that I work. I used that very personal experience to make things better. I would experience an issue one day and then go back to work and ask, “Are we doing that? Is that happening in
our hospital? If so, we have to fix this.”
What are your goals for the impact of your efforts on the lives of patients and families facing cancer?
JF: My goal is that we never lose sight of the fact that patients are at the center of what we do. I will continue to help patients live through and live with cancer—supporting them through
the journey of treatment and helping them with the next stage of rebuilding their lives in the wake of this life-changing experience.