Shortly before I started physician assistant (PA) school, my stepmother became ill and began treatment for what turned out to be an incorrect diagnosis. Eventually, she went to Fred Hutch, where physicians confirmed that her diagnosis had been wrong and she likely had multiple myeloma. My stepmother went on to receive a stem cell transplant and has now been a cancer survivor for more than 20 years. Her experience intrigued me and led me to do a clinical rotation at Fred Hutch, which turned into a full-time job. It was so exciting to be in the place where bone marrow transplantation first started; I worked alongside and learned from the pioneers in this field. More than 20 years later, I’m still supporting patients and continuing to develop my knowledge of transplant medicine.
When I was providing outpatient care, I worked with a patient who was dealing with some very complex family dynamics. During her visits, we would spend a lot of time working through those issues in addition to addressing her medical needs. After her treatment ended, her family stopped by one day and gave me a gift. It was a picture of a life preserver. They told me that I had helped keep them afloat during a really challenging time. The gift meant a lot to me, and the picture still hangs on my wall. These days, my role is different. I provide night time inpatient care — a lot of what I do happens behind the scenes so I can ensure that patients get rest. What has remained the same for me across my various roles in transplant medicine is my commitment to building trust with patients and families. I focus on listening, being open and honest about clinical decisions and helping people play an active part in their care.
Malignant and non-malignant blood disorders
I am a board-certified physician assistant with more than 20 years of experience in blood and bone marrow transplantation. My background includes working in outpatient care, coordinating allogenic transplants (those that require a donor) and providing long-term follow-up care. Currently, I am the lead night hospitalist for Fred Hutch’s Blood and Marrow Transplant Service. In this role, I provide inpatient care at UW Medical Center - Montlake for people who are being treated for a variety of malignant and non-malignant blood disorders. Some of the patients I care for are admitted to the hospital as part of their regular treatment regimen, while others may be experiencing acute transplant- or immunotherapy-related health problems. I am a member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants and the American Society for Transplantation and Cellular Therapy.
In addition to providing patient care, I serve as lead of the education committee for the blood and marrow transplant service. We focus on establishing training programs and continuing education for advanced practice providers, such as physician assistants.
We make promising new treatments available to you through studies called clinical trials led by Fred Hutch doctors. Many of these trials at Fred Hutch have led to FDA-approved treatments and have improved standards of care globally. Together, you and your doctor can decide if a study is right for you.
At Fred Hutch, you receive care from a team of providers with extensive experience in your disease. Your team includes doctors, a patient care coordinator, a registered nurse, an advanced practice provider and others, based on your needs. You also have access to experts like nutritionists, social workers, acupuncturists, psychiatrists and more who specialize in supporting people with cancer or blood disorders.
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