PHOTO: Jessica Parente

Jessica Parente

Jessica L. Parente is a recipient of a Nurses Educational Funds, Inc. Scholarship for the 2019-2020 academic year. She is currently obtaining her Masters as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner through Eastern Kentucky University Online. She received her first undergraduate Bachelors degree in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2008. In 2015, she went on to receive her nursing degree through the Accelerated BSN Program at Robert Morris University where she graduated as a part of the Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society.

Jessica has always had a love and passion for mental health. Prior to becoming a nurse, she worked in roles such as a Child/Adolescent Therapeutic Staff Support and a Milieu Therapist at various non-profit organizations across the city of Pittsburgh. She was eventually drawn to the field of nursing because of the access and commitment to caring for people. After obtaining her BSN, she wanted to combine the clinical experience she gained in her behavioral health jobs with her newly acquired nursing skills and felt that the specialty of Oncology was the best and most appropriate avenue to nurture these skill sets. Jessica began her career on an Adult Inpatient Hem/Onc/BMT unit but eventually switched back to the pediatric world where she currently resides.

As an Outpatient Pediatric Hem/Onc/BMT Nurse at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Jessica continues to advocate for the integration of mental health services into cancer care. In 2017, she attended the American Psychosocial Oncology Society’s National Workshop, “Distress Screening in Oncology,” to expand her skills and knowledge in imbedding mental health support within the Oncology division. As a current member of the Patient Support Committee, she is headlining a Distress Screen Project which aims to streamline newly diagnosed oncology patients to behavioral health services based on their risk and need.

In her spare time, Jessica enjoys volunteering for numerous national and local non-profits. She is a national member of the Association of Pediatric Hem/Onc Nurses organization where she also serves as the Treasurer for her local Greater Pittsburgh Three Rivers Chapter. As a CureRock Foundation for Pediatric/AYA Cancer volunteer, Jessica helps organize and support events that directly benefit her pediatric Hem/Onc population. In addition to her passion for giving back to local organizations, she also has a passion for using her skills to help underserved populations abroad. Twice in 2015, Jessica traveled to Managua, Nicaragua to participate in medical mission work through Robert Morris University’s nursing program and hopes to continue this type of service in other under-developed countries.

The decision to pursue her Masters as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner came naturally as it is the combination of Jessica’s two biggest passions: mental health and nursing. Following graduation, Jessica hopes to continue advocating for mental health support in all facets of nursing care while being an agent of change in reducing the stigma of mental health illness.

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