Bolstering Leadership Skills in Oncology Nursing: Nick Escobedo, DNP, RN

At the recent 48th Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Congress, Nick Escobedo, an Oncology Nurse and Director of Inpatient Services for Oncology at Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, sat down with Oncology Data Advisor to discuss his presentation titled Developing New Oncology Nurse Leaders, in which he provides valuable advice and resources to bolster the oncology nursing staff leadership.  

Oncology Data Advisor: Welcome to Oncology Data Advisor. Today, we’re here at ONS Congress and I’m joined by Nick Escobedo. Thank you so much for coming on today.

Nick Escobedo, DNP, RN, OCN, NE-BC: Thank you for having me.

Oncology Data Advisor: Would you like to introduce yourself and share what your work is focusing on?

Dr. Escobedo: Yes, of course. So, as you said, I am Nick Escobedo, I’ve been an Oncology Nurse for just about 13 years. I’ve had various kinds of practice settings in my few years of work; I have ambulatory experience, inpatient experience, and I’ve progressed through different leadership roles from staff nurse, charge nurse, shared governance lead, clinical manager, director of nursing, associate chief nursing officer, and now serve as the Director of Inpatient Services for Oncology at Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas.

Oncology Data Advisor: That’s amazing. So, you presented a session here called Developing New Oncology Nurse Leaders. Why are leadership practice and development so important for oncology nurses?

Dr. Escobedo: Yes, great question. I think for oncology nurses, we really are poised because of the work that we do to drive and impact a lot of the change that can happen, especially with our frontline staff all the way through senior leadership positions. So, I think the idea around the growth and development for anybody who’s looking to advance in their career is just really, really important because that drives better outcomes for patients, where we get to see the true benefits of this. Especially now, with all that we’ve dealt with after the last couple years with COVID and how that’s changed our practice, the impact of leadership from our frontline staff on the operations of individual work units are definitely key to us trying to make sure we address.

Oncology Data Advisor: Definitely. How did you develop your own leadership skills?

Dr. Escobedo: I had some really good mentors—we talked a little bit about that in the presentation—I had nurses and colleagues who took me under their wing and showed me what leadership was about. I initially just tried to role model them and said I wanted to be just like them. As I’ve gone through the years trying to navigate and fit that into my style of leadership, I’ve had a few good mentors who have walked me through and pushed me to, like I said in the presentation, raise my hand and say, “I can do it.” I can be a part of this committee, send me to this training. You want somebody to learn something, I can take that on. You want me to lead something, I can do it. So, I’ve really relied on them to help push me and challenge me to do things I wouldn’t have normally done, and that’s in turn helped me see how I grow and develop others.

Oncology Data Advisor: Awesome. So, you talked in the presentation about building partnerships. How would you recommend going about this and with whom?

Dr. Escobedo: Yes, so networking is definitely key, and I think that’s still in practice for me; it’s a skill that I still try to work on and hone. I’m naturally more introverted, so I’ve had to kind of put myself out there to say, “Go make that connection.” Go in, introduce yourself, do some of the tips, tricks, and tools of the “why” questions, things like that to ease myself into the conversation. That’s always a skill that I try to tell people, if you’re not comfortable doing it, challenge yourself and try. The worst that could happen is somebody would say no to an introduction, but in my experience, I haven’t found that so.

Oncology Data Advisor: Awesome. So, what are the changes that you think oncology nurses or oncology leaders should advocate for?

Dr. Escobedo: Definitely, right now, I think it comes to a lot of what our frontline staff deal with. Leaders need to really push for ensuring they’ve got the right amount of support and support in many different ways. Definitely, I think from a staffing perspective, that’s key—the growth and development opportunities for people who are coming into the specialty new. We’ve seen a lot of presentations here at Congress and given stats of just the number of nurses who are retiring, we’re losing a lot of knowledge. I think as leaders, we have to support unique ways of bringing that knowledge back to our novice nurses and people who are new to the specialty.

So, supporting those things like sending people to Congress, using some of the resources that we have through the Oncology Nursing Society, the Foundation Board, and also the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC) definitely are ways that they can champion for a little bit of that knowledge retainment. With my certification hat and the work that I do with the ONCC, I think it’s a matter of just supporting and advocating for some of the programs they use to help drive people to certification. It’s another validation of the skill, which is great. And of course, we know that it leads to better outcomes for patients.

Oncology Data Advisor: Absolutely. Well, this is so great to hear about. So thank you so much for sharing it all today.

Dr. Escobedo: Of course. Thank you for having me.

About Dr. Escobedo

Nick Escobedo is an Oncology Nurse with 13 years of experience in the field, encompassing both outpatient and inpatient settings and holding multiple titles such as staff nurse, charge nurse, shared governance lead, clinical manager, director of nursing, and associate chief nursing officer. Currently, Dr. Escobedo is Director of Nursing for inpatient cancer at Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas.

For More Information

Escobedo N (2023). Developing new oncology nurse leaders. Presented at: 48th Annual Oncology Nursing Society Congress. Available at:

Transcript edited for clarity. Any views expressed above are the speaker’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Oncology Data Advisor. 

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