Honoring Oncology Nurses at the State’s Only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center

May is Oncology Nursing Month

Oncology Nurses at Excellence Awards Ceremony

New Brunswick, N.J., May 8, 2024 – Oncology nurses at RWJBarnabas Health and Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s  only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, play a vital role in the care of patients, engage in cancer research and serve as an education resource for their peers. To recognize the scope of their work, three nurses have been named recipients of Rutgers Cancer Institute’s ‘Oncology Nursing Excellence Awards’ during Nurses Week this year. This year’s award recipients were named during the annual Elizabeth Gibby Osborne Lecture today. 

Natalie Ciolko, BSN, OCN, is described by her peers as having inspiring, unparalleled dedication to her patients, devotion to exemplary cancer care, and “a heart brimming with compassion.” She is known for not only caring for the medical needs of her patients but lending a listening ear and support during patients’ most trying moments with her “genuine empathy offering “comfort and hope to patients and their families.” Natalie is known by her colleagues to be a champion for her patients - treating them with the utmost respect, advocating for their preferences, and empowering them to make informed decisions about their cancer care. Furthermore, Natalie’s “collaborative spirit is the cornerstone of her exceptional teamwork within the treatment area,” as she continuously “fosters an environment of camaraderie and mutual support among her colleagues” and is always willing to share knowledge, offer guidance, and lend a helping hand.

George Wang, Oncology Nursing Excellence Award recipientGeorge Wang, RN exceeds in leadership, clinical practice, and customer service, as a nurse navigator according to his peers. George has been crucial in streamlining referrals and helping patients get the scans they need. Additionally, George is “skilled in helping our most vulnerable patient populations,” going above and beyond to help patients facing barriers such as dementia, nursing home placement, insurance, and substance abuse. He has spent endless hours arranging transportation, escorting patients around the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital campus, or even delivering medications to patients while they are receiving care at Rutgers Cancer Institute. He is extremely patient, regularly goes above and beyond to support the medical team and help his patients and is described as a kind and trusted clinician by his patients and an invaluable resource to all his colleagues.

Kimberly Laino, Oncology Nursing Excellence Award recipientKimberly Laino, MSN, FNP-BC, RN, OCN is known for developing warm and wonderful relationships with patients and tends to them with kindness, reassuring them when they become anxious or scared. Kim’s peers know her as someone they can “count on to provide support and is a great collaborator” with an amazing work ethic and compassion. A patient advocate, Kim makes sure that all her patients needs are met physically, mentally, and socially and is “dedicated to giving our patients the very best care day in and day out.” Kim’s colleagues have also described her as being incredibly kind to her co-workers, who note that they are lucky to have her as part of their team.

The Oncology Nursing Excellence Awards are underwritten in part by the Elizabeth Gibby Osborne Lecture and Scholarship Fund. Because of Mrs. Osborne’s strong belief in education, her husband Bill established the fund after her death from cancer in 2004 to support peer learning opportunities for oncology nurses at Rutgers Cancer Institute. To celebrate Nurse’s Day this year, Rutgers Cancer Institute in partnership with Lily Oncology hosted the Annual Elizabeth Gibby Osborne lecture delivered by Richard Patrick McQuellon, PhD from Wake Forest University Hospital who presented “Pathways Toward Resilience: Approaches for Adapting to Challenges in Oncology Care.”

“We are excited to partner with Lilly Oncology this year to present this topic.  Proactively managing stress in healthcare and oncology is a priority.  Adding tools to combat compassion fatigue and burnout while setting healthy boundaries to our nurse’s toolboxes assists them with self-care and to provide quality care for our patients. notes Carla Schaefer DNP, RN, OCN, CENP, associate chief nursing officer at Rutgers Cancer Institute. “All of our nurses at Rutgers Cancer Institute and RWJBarnabas Health go above and beyond the conventional expectations of what it means to be an oncology nurse, and those we recognize today have particularly excelled in their patient-centered care, professionalism, teamwork and excellence. They are role models to us all.” 

Oncology Nurses at Excellence Awards Ceremony

About Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
As New Jersey’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Rutgers Cancer Institute, together with RWJBarnabas Health, offers the most advanced cancer treatment options including bone marrow transplantation, proton therapy, CAR T-cell therapy and complex surgical procedures. Along with clinical trials and novel therapeutics such as precision medicine and immunotherapy – many of which are not widely available – patients have access to these cutting-edge therapies at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey in New Brunswick, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey at University Hospital in Newark, as well as through RWJBarnabas Health facilities. To make a tax-deductible gift to support Rutgers Cancer Institute, call 848-932-8013 or visit cinj.org/giving.


For journalists – contact:
Krista Didzbalis 
Media Relations Specialist  


For patient appointments/inquiries – contact:
844-CANCERNJ (844-226-2376)