Meghan Wood Cardoza
37 •Inpatient oncology nurse manager •
St. Luke’s Medical Center • Boise
At a very young age, Meghan Wood Cardoza knew she wanted to be a nurse. As a leader, she is fully committed to her patients and is always willing to go above and beyond to help influence quality care.
Cardoza grew up on a ranch in Miles City, Montana, driving tractors and taking care of animals. In 2000, she went on to pursue her dreams in health care at Carroll College in Helena, Montana.
As a junior in college, Cardoza pursued a life-changing internship through St. Luke’s Hospital, believing her calling was to take care of newborn babies. But not long after, she decided to become an oncology nurse.
“A friend of mine always says ‘oncology chooses you, you do not choose oncology,’” Cardoza recounts. “This is so completely true. The patients I have cared for in the last 15 years have truly shaped who I am today. Their courage, optimism and perseverance in the face of true fear and the unknown has been an honor. They have helped me more than I could ever help them.”
In 2016, Cardoza was nominated by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for the Woman of the Year fundraiser. Her personal goal was to earn $10,000, but her team surpassed that, bringing in closer to $30,000.
“Meghan is an influential individual that has both the impetus and fortitude to drive health care into the future,” says Dave Kent, director of Mountain States Tumor Institute. “She lives by a high set of personal values every day while positively impacting patients’ lives and their care more than I could ever explain in words.”
Last year, Cardoza stepped into a leadership role as interim director just as St. Luke’s was starting an allogeneic stem cell transplant program, in which the hospital harvests stem cells, treats the patient with chemotherapy and gives the patient back their own stem cells in order to help them heal.
She demonstrated her flexibility and capacity to lead effectively while embracing a huge learning curve.
Kristen Anderson, oncology nurse and unit-based educator, can attest. She wrote a letter nominating Cardoza for this award.
“Meghan has always been a champion of change, an important quality for a health care worker, especially in the oncology field,” Anderson writes. “She exemplifies transformational leadership, always eager to learn from the staff she leads. With an attitude to embrace change, opportunities for improvement are never overlooked.”
In the next 20 years, Cardoza plans on continuing with the important role of mentoring nurses, volunteering for causes that spread awareness and spending time with her family.
She will never stop believing in, advocating for, and relentlessly pursuing quality medical care and the best interests of every oncology patient and the brave team that cares for them.
“I think that nursing in general, we are lucky in the sense that our profession is also kind of our identity — I definitely see that is a huge part of my life and who I am,” Cardoza says.