Staff Spotlight: Kristina Iligan, R.N., M.S.N., M.P.H.

Kristina Iligan, R.N., M.S.N., M.P.H., is a clinical research nurse who works in the malignant hematology division at the UF Health Cancer Center.

Kristina Iligan, R.N., M.S.N., M.P.H.

Q: What is your hometown?

A: I was born in Brooklyn, New York, and then moved to Tampa when I was 9 years old.

Q: Describe your educational and professional background.  

A: I completed my Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Florida in 2017 and then started working as a registered nurse at UF Health Shands Cancer Hospital’s bone marrow transplant unit. After working there for a couple of years, I moved to Baltimore, Maryland, to pursue my Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.) and Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) at Johns Hopkins University. I completed this dual degree program in December 2020 along with a Global Health certificate. 

Q: How did you get into your current career path and how many years have you been in the role?

A: After graduate school, I moved back to Florida for personal reasons. While based in Florida, I wanted a job that tied into public health and had population-level impact, and I found a wonderful career in clinical research. My current role as a clinical research nurse for the malignant hematology division marries my background as a bedside bone marrow transplant RN and an M.S.N./M.P.H. graduate very well. I have worked in this role for about three years.

Q: What is a typical day like in your job?

A: Clinical research nurses wear many hats, but I essentially coordinate complex clinical care and protocol-required testing for research participants; collaborate with our interdisciplinary team, contract research organizations and sponsors; analyze and interpret clinical data from potential and enrolled research participants; maintain strict compliance with all internal and external regulatory and institutional requirements; streamline sample collection, analysis and shipping procedures, delegating appropriate tasks to research assistants and interns; and routinely perform research billing review.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of working for the UF Health Cancer Center?

A: Working in clinical research trials allows me to make an impact on an individual research participant basis, as well as at a wider national and international level. It is incredibly rewarding to coordinate trials that produce FDA-approved drug therapies, creating more options for leukemia and lymphoma patients, a population that desperately needs better therapies and supportive care.

However, the most rewarding part is serving our research participants and their loved ones on a personal level. I meet with the participants and their loved ones in person for most of their study visits, regularly engage in discussions regarding their study involvement and medical care, and provide advocacy to the sponsor or clinical team if needed. Our participants are kind and resilient, and it is an honor to be part of their cancer journey.

“Our participants are kind and resilient, and it is an honor to be part of their cancer journey.”

Kristina Iligan

Q: How do you keep your skills current and continue to learn and grow?

A: I regularly attend webinars and seminars to stay abreast of current evidenced-based strategies and interventions in the oncology landscape. When I have an active research participant undergoing screening or receiving study treatment, I ensure that I am in person in clinic or in the inpatient unit and engaging with the clinical team in real time, so I can continue to grow as a research nurse and understand and adapt to the quickly evolving workflows and practices of the clinical setting.

Kristina Iligan with her younger sister vacationing in Positano, Italy.

Q: Describe how you would spend your ideal day off from work.

A: I would be either out of the state or out of the country with my loved ones, enjoying beautiful nature and delicious foods.

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