NJ Nurse Manager Dresses Up in Costumes to Lift Cancer Patients’ Spirits

 In Nurses Weekly

Nurses are known for their acts of kindness, but Lisa Schneidenbach does it with incredible character. She dresses up as many different characters – all in the name of lifting patients’ spirits.

Schneidenbach, an assistant nurse manager with John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack Meridian Health in New Jersey, says her passion for connecting with patients is the essence of being a nurse. Her now monthly costume motif has been a way to watch smiles replace fear and anxiety in patients of all ages who are battling cancer.

Daily Nurse is proud to recognize Lisa Schneidenbach as our Nurse of the Week, honoring her creative way of connecting with patients to lift their spirits. Her costumes also provide a healthy diversion for patients and staff from their daily routine with joy, laughter, and a sense of escape.

Schneidenbach says her passion for dressing up stems from growing up loving Halloween. The tradition of transforming her image at the hospital started last year when the floors began to dress up for that holiday with different themes.

She says holidays are particularly tough for families with loved ones in the cancer center. So Schneidenbach tries to go above and beyond to improve their days by finding costumes for every holiday and handing out little gifts.

The dress-up concept is now a surprise, monthly treat.

“The costume idea has a positive psychological effect on patients and staff. Patients will always ask if they can take a picture with me. No one knows when I will show up in costume. It is my nature to help people feel comfortable and to relieve their anxiety in any possible way. This is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job. For just a moment, if I can help a patient smile, I made a connection,” she says.

In the past year, Schneidenbach donned several looks, including Uncle Sam, The Statue of Liberty, and The Easter Bunny. But her favorites are Cousin Itt from the Addams Family and Scuba Steve from the hit Adam Sandler movie Big Daddy. Her fellow team members appreciate her commitment to lifting the spirits of her patients.

“She is always looking to do things for others to make them happy. She takes an interest in people and makes it a point to get to know them and understand what they have going on in their lives. If there’s anything she can do to make life easier or better for them, she will,” says Linda Casey, Director of Nursing Patient Care JTCC Infusion.

And whether she’s visiting patients dressed as a leprechaun or a scarecrow – Schneidenbach’s pure love for nursing is on display daily.

“I love that nursing allows us to reach patients across all walks of life. We get to make a difference and a connection, even if it is only a brief moment. A connection is made if doing just a little thing by dressing up brings a smile on the patient’s face.”

Nominate a Nurse of the Week! Every Wednesday, DailyNurse.com features a nurse making a difference in the lives of their patients, students, and colleagues. We encourage you to nominate a nurse who has impacted your life as the next Nurse of the Week, and we’ll feature them online and in our weekly newsletter.

(This story originally appeared in DailyNurse.com.)

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