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View Pediatric Support.

Oncology social work services

An oncology social worker provides services, such as counseling, education, and information and referrals to community resources, including support groups. An oncology social worker often acts as a liaison between people with cancer and the medical team, and helps people find ways to navigate the health-care system. He or she works with the medical team to make sure people with cancer get the information they need to make informed choices about their care, and the support needed to manage the day-to-day challenges of living with cancer.

Social Workers are available for oncology patients to help deal with a cancer diagnosis and potential treatments. Our goal is to assist you through the treatment process in a number of practical and supportive ways. The following is a partial list of the ways that social workers may help you and your family:

  • Discussing work concerns
  • Crisis intervention, grief and loss concerns
  • Looking at changes in sexual functioning
  • Coping with physical changes from surgery or treatment
  • Helping you and your family learn about your disease and treatment
  • Dealing with emotional reactions following a cancer diagnosis & treatment
  • Making quality of life decisions in coordination with your goals of treatment
  • Assisting with problem solving, coordination and adaptation to healthcare needs
  • Referral for resources (social, emotional, and/or financial) as needed to overcome barriers to care and improve the psychosocial functioning of the patient/caregiver

Contact Patient & Family Resources to reach a Clinical Social Worker: (352) 265-0224

Criser Cancer Resource Center

Located on the south east corner of the Andy and Toni Crawford lobby of UF Health Shands Cancer Hospital, the Marshall M. and Paula P. Criser, Jr. Cancer Resource Center is designed to promote patient education and wellness.

Realizing the need for a safe, quiet and private space, the center provides patients and families a relaxing and supportive environment. Here they can stay connected to family and friends through computers with free internet access, find up-to-date information about treatment, recovery and how to cope with bereavement.

The floor-to-ceiling windows on the east and south sides offer ample natural light, and visitors can enjoy views of the Garden of Hope and surrounding scenery in a family room atmosphere.

Experienced staff with backgrounds in oncology, social work, psychology, creative arts and holistic healing, engage patients and families in a variety of educational opportunities and support services designed to foster personal discovery.

In addition, the Margo Powers multi-purpose room (located within the center) offers patients, families and staff a place to conduct and enjoy health-related classes, art workshops and educational seminars. It also can host small group meetings.

The Criser Cancer Resource Center is an interdisciplinary facility that complements medical care and helps us support the diverse needs of individuals and families. The center provides information and tools to help patients and their families cope with cancer and its treatments.

Local and online cancer support groups

  • Healing Touch Support Group: family, friends, caregivers, patients, and survivors are welcome at group, which meets the third Thursday of each month from 5:30-7:00 in the O. Dean Martin Prayer Room of Trinity United Methodist Church, located at 4000 NW 53rd Ave, Gainesville, FL 32653. For more information, please contact Marcey Corey at (352) 331-2960 or Margie Stark at (386) 462-9592, or Trinity United Methodist Church at (352) 376-6615.
  • HealthStreet Cancer Connections: Cancer Connections is a monthly educational and networking meeting held at HealthStreet for cancer healthcare professionals and cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers. Anyone who is involved in the care or treatment of cancer patients or who provide a service to them is welcomed to join. The group meets at HealthStreet on the 3rd Wednesday of every month from 12pm-1pm featuring prominent cancer healthcare professionals. For more information about how to get involved with Cancer Connections, contact Barb Thomas at
  • Imerman Angels: Imerman Angels connects individuals seeking cancer support with a “Mentor Angel.” These 1–on–1 relationships inspire hope and offer the chance to ask personal questions and receive support from someone who is uniquely familiar with the experience. Mentor Angels can lend support and empathy while helping cancer fighters and caregivers navigate the system, determine their options and create their own support systems.
  • ABTA Connections Online Support: The ABTA maintains a nationwide listing of brain tumor support groups, cancer groups that welcome brain tumor survivors, caregiver/spouse support groups and grief (bereavement) support groups.
  • Brain Tumor - Caregiver Support Group: This 15-week online support group is for people caring for a loved one with a primary malignant brain tumor or brain metastasis. This group is a safe, convenient, and confidential space where caregivers can discuss the unique challenges of caring for a loved one with a brain tumor while giving and receiving support, information, and guidance. This group is professionally moderated by a licensed oncology social worker and is completely free of charge.

Medical interpreter and translation services

We provide interpretation services each year to thousands of patients and their families with limited English proficiency to ensure patient safety and compassionate care. Spanish medical interpreters are available 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday, to assist patients and families during their hospital stay. We also offer 24/7 phone translation services when our interpreters are unavailable. Contact the Office of Patient Experience for assistance at (352) 594-5004.

Important links

Pediatric oncology social work

The role of the pediatric oncology social worker is to help patients, families, and caregivers deal with the experience of facing cancer. Our licensed clinical social workers are educated and skilled to assist with the psychological, social, emotional, and spiritual issues that often arise when a child is diagnosed with cancer.

UF Health Shands Children's Hospital pediatric oncology social workers can:

  • help a child and his/her family cope from the moment of diagnosis through to the end of treatment, whether survivorship or palliative care
  • help the family adjust to the diagnosis and the changes created in how they live their lives
  • help family members by providing emotional support and counseling
  • help the patients and family maintain a ‘new normal’ way of living
  • help families navigate the medical system, helping to bridge connections between the family and the medical team
  • help identify resources (emotional, supportive, and/or financial)
  • help school-aged patients remain connected with school to decrease the impact of treatment on their social, emotional, and academic development
  • help patients return to school successfully, when they are ready to return
  • help families and children by advocating for their needs within the hospital and community setting

If you think you might want help in any of these areas, tell your doctor or nurse that you would like to meet with a pediatric oncology social worker.

Pediatric Brain Tumor Social Worker: Jennifer St. Clair graduated with her Master of Social Work degree from UNC Chapel Hill in 2007 and earned her LCSW in 2011. She was the Pediatric Neuro/Oncology Social Worker at Duke University Hospital for several years until joining Shands Hospital in July 2016. Jennifer provides universal coverage for families in both the inpatient and outpatient settings, meeting them shortly after diagnosis and following them through to survivorship or palliative care services.

Certified Child Life Specialists

The Child Life Program was established to help children and families cope with the stress and anxiety of hospitalization. Child Life Specialists at UF Health Shands Children's Hospital are certified professionals who work in partnership with families, doctors, nurses, and other caregivers to meet the unique emotional and developmental needs of children and families. These services are available in both the inpatient and outpatient settings. You can request a consultation by calling 352-594-6470 or asking your medical team for a referral.

UF Health Shands Children's Hospital Child Life Specialists (CCLS):

  • Provide age-appropriate play and activities to promote coping, expression of feelings, and adjustment to the healthcare setting.
  • Prepare, educate, and support children undergoing medical procedures and treatments to help them understand what to expect, clear up any misconceptions, and build healthy coping skills.
  • Provide support and distraction for patients during medical procedures
  • Provide non-threatening, age-appropriate explanations and preparations
  • Help children understand diagnosis or illness
  • Promote normal growth and development
  • Offer legacy building and memory making to help children cope with grief
  • Develop supportive relationships with patients and families and promote family centered care

Outpatient CCLS: Jenna Priest began her work at UF/Shands as a Therapeutic Recreation Therapist in November of 1997. She went on to complete additional education and became a Certified Child Life Specialist in 2002. Jenna is available to orient patients to the clinic and provide preparation and support during port accessing, IV placements, blood draws, or any other invasive procedure. Jenna is also a liaison between the clinic and community informing our patients and families of opportunities that may benefit them during treatment for life-threatening or chronic illnesses.

Inpatient CCLS: Bethany Fisackerly is a Gator at heart- earning her B.S. in Psychology from the University of Florida in 2009. Since that time she earned her M.S. In Child Development and Family Relations from East Carolina University (2011), and holds the credentials of Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS). Having worked professionally in both Miami, FL and Columbia, SC, Bethany returned to UF Health/Shands in 2017 to provide support to patients and families admitted on the 4200 pediatric unit. In her capacity as a CCLS, Bethany helps patients all ages cope with their diagnosis and treatment through developmental play, procedural support, and educational interventions.

Streetlight: adolescent and young adult support

Streetlight is an adolescent and young adult support program here at UF Health for people aged 13-25 living with cancer, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell, and other chronic and life-limiting illnesses. The services are available during a patient’s admission to Shands Hospital. To request services, ask your medical team or call *50917 from a hospital phone.

UF Health Shands Children's Hospital Streetlight Program Provides:

  • Laptops & Homework Help
  • Art Materials & Jewelry Making
  • DVDs & Magazines
  • Streetlight T-Shirt & Room Visits
  • Video Games/Systems
  • Manicures and Pedicures
  • Guitars and Other Musical Instruments
  • ShandsSpaces: a collage of your personal identity
  • Teen lounge with pool, music, computers, and board games

Hospital Homebound: education during treatment

A homebound or hospitalized student is a student who has a medically diagnosed physical or psychiatric condition which is acute or catastrophic in nature, or a chronic illness, or a repeated intermittent illness due to a persisting medical problem and that confines the student to home or hospital and restricts activities for an extended period of time.

If hospital/homebound services are needed, the clinical social worker will coordinate with the family, the medical team, and the hospital school teacher to refer the family.

Hospital School Teacher: Michelle Roberts has been a Homebound Instructor with Alachua County Schools since February 2016. She came to Shands following her work as a Learning Specialist with the University of Florida’s Athletic Department, where she had worked with collegiate athletes since 2008. She can see patients during admission or as outpatients when relocated to the local area for an extended period of time.

Local and online support programs

  • Stupid Cancer!– nonprofit organization and the leader in young adult cancer advocacy, research, and support. They create shared experiences by producing life-changing live events and digital content that end isolation, build community, provide education, and foster meaningful relationships that last a lifetime. They’re mission is to empower, support, and improve health outcomes for the young adult (ages 15 – 39) cancer community.
  • Momcology: a national nonprofit organization committed to extending the benefits of community by providing peer support for childhood cancer families. They provide modern platforms for primary caregivers to connect with each other, support one another, seek current and timely information, and begin the long-term healing process after a childhood cancer diagnosis through a strong, resilient and educated peer support community.
  • NCCS Mentoring Program: National Childhood Cancer Society (NCCS) provides an opportunity for children ages 10-17 who are in treatment to be partnered with childhood cancer survivors who are now young adults. The mentors are an experienced guide, trusted ally, and caring role model in helping face the challenges of childhood cancer.
  • HealthStreet Cancer Connections: Cancer Connections is a monthly educational and networking meeting held at HealthStreet for cancer healthcare professionals and cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers. Anyone who is involved in the care or treatment of cancer patients or who provide a service to them is welcomed to join. The group meets at HealthStreet on the 3rd Wednesday of every month from 12pm-1pm featuring prominent cancer healthcare professionals. For more information about how to get involved with Cancer Connections, contact Barb Thomas at
  • ACCO Support Group on American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) introduced a 24/7 online community in partnership with in 2008. They’ve created a place where you can connect with others who know what you are going through. Among the many exciting features the new community offers, you can:
    • Participate in discussion groups – or just read what others have to say
    • Post personal profiles – share as much or as little as you’d like
    • Post personal photos or videos
    • Invite other members to be friends
    • Create a personal journal (or “blog”) where you can express your feelings and allow others to comment
    • Read others’ journals to learn about their experiences
  • CBTF Family to Family Mentor Program: Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation (CBTF)’s longest running program, the Family 2 Family (F2F) Mentor Program connects caregiver, survivor, and bereaved caregiver mentors to families who are seeking peer support. They recognize the expertise and support which can be provided by people who have shared a similar experience.

More psychosocial support at UF Health

Arts in Medicine (inpatient only)

  • Monday - Friday, 9a - 5pm
  • Artists in residence & volunteers
  • Visual, performing, & literary arts at bedside

Contact: via bedside nurse

Case Management (inpatient only)

  • Referral for home medical supplies
  • Arrange hospital to hospital transfer
  • Referral for home health
  • Referral to pediatric skilled nursing facility
  • Insurance authorization as needed for discharge
  • Referral to pediatric inpatient rehab

Contact: via primary medical team

Clinical Psychology (consultation/liaison service)

  • Assessment of psychological functioning, coping & adjustment
  • Targeted interventions
  • Treatment plan development
  • Outpatient therapy services

Contact: via primary medial team

Customer Service

  • Billing questions / payment plans

Contact: 352-265-7906

Dance/Movement Therapy

  • Available for Patients & Families
  • Expressive movement & creative arts
  • Art & body-based coping strategies

Contact: via primary medical team


  • Health insurance navigator
  • Free therapy night
  • Community support groups
  • Referral for free/low-cost medical care
  • Clothing & toiletry pantry

Contact: 352-294-4880

Insurance Counseling

  • May be able to help compare / contrast available plans and discuss resulting benefit coverage

Contact: admissions desk; first floor; (352) 265-0236

Integrative Medicine

  • Integrative medicine assessment
  • Meditation / relaxation
  • Tai chi therapy
  • Massage therapy

Contact: via primary medical team


  • Assessment of neurocognitive functioning (inpatient)
  • Comprehensive neuropsych evaluations (outpatient)

Contact: via primary medical team

Pediatric Guest Services

  • Bravery beads
  • In-kind donations
  • Hospital amenities

Contact: kiosk in front of unit 4400; (352) 594-5674