Psychosocial Oncology Program

~ Provider Education, Training, & Support

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment to improve the world.”
~ Anne Frank

The Psychosocial Oncology Program is the educational and research arm of our sister program, the Cancer Patient Support Program. Rooted in the Wake Forest School of Medicine’s Hematology and Oncology Department, we conduct integrated research, teach and train future clinicians and students, provide counseling to service providers, and offer resilience programming for oncology providers within Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. As the academic hub of the emerging enterprise, we will continue to engage in protocolized research, scholarly production, and presentations.

Our integrated, research-focused, and evidence-based programming enables us to be nimble and flexible in adapting clinical methodologies to meet the needs of patients, caregivers, and their providers. Inpatient propinquity encourages multidisciplinary collaboration across many levels of patient support. Our clinical mental health counselors and social workers work closely with oncologists, radiologists, surgeons, PAs, NPs, nurses, clinical social workers, nurse navigators, physical therapists, recreational therapists, dieticians, and more to ensure each patient receives a holistic approach to care. The program is funded through fee-for-service activity and grants.

Academic Scholarship, Teaching, & Supervision

Our academic scholarship is multidisciplinary in its approach to improving patient care. Recent protocols assessed coping strategies for young adults dealing with the dual threats of cancer and COVID-19, the therapeutic benefits of drumming for Hematopoietic Cell Transplant (HCT) Patients, and the quality of life of patients undergoing intensive treatments.

We also engage in curriculum development and teaching, following our long history of providing psychosocial seminars, lectures, and courses to medical students, fellows, residents, physician assistants, and nurses. Topics have included ethical issues, Scanxiety, existential concerns, and death and dying.

Our robust and competitive practicum and internship programs provide for up to two master’s or doctoral students in behavioral health each semester. Our three-semester practicum and internship placements provide excellent opportunities for graduate students interested in counseling, psychology, and psychosocial oncology to gain clinical experience working with individuals with cancer and caregivers in an academic medical center. Students work with our multidisciplinary behavioral health group in integrated care in the outpatient and inpatient settings and gain exposure to adjustment reactions to health status, grief, anxiety, depression, treatment decision making, rapid assessment and crisis response, multidisciplinary collaboration, survivorship care, and trauma. Upon completion, highly trained candidates are able to enter the psychosocial oncology field upon graduation.

Historically, we have provided a home to Wake Forest University pro humanitate students and support community outreach with the addition of teen volunteers during the summer months. 

Provider Resilience: Mindfulness & Bereavement Support

The coronavirus pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on healthcare workers across the globe, including those close to home. Our Comprehensive Cancer Center’s teams continued to work throughout the pandemic with tenacity and care for our patients, overcoming great obstacles to save patient lives. In recognition of their efforts and in support of the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act of 2022, our Psychosocial Oncology team is developing wellness and bereavement programming to support the mental health and wellness of oncology providers. We are proud to work in this arena across disciplines with providers, nurses, FaithHealth pastoral staff, navigators, and more to create meaningful programming that provides a safe and empathic holding space to recognize losses, share experiences, and embrace peaceful moments of remembrances. We also provide a virtual 15-minute Mindfulness Recharge for Comprehensive Cancer Center providers and staff Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1:30. To register, email Lisa Rainwater at lrainwat@wakehealth.edu.

List of Recent Academic Scholarship