When Dr. Nandita Khera gets home, her 3-year-old daughter sometimes greets her with a quick couple of questions: “Is your patient sick? Does he need some medicine?”
The questions make Nandita smile because they’re just an example of how much support she gets at home for doing what she loves: caring for patients.
“My husband, Pawan, has been a great supporter throughout my career. My family knows how important this job is to me,” she said.
And that support doesn’t stop once she leaves her home. At work at the Hutchinson Center, she has Dr. Stephanie Lee firmly on her side—a compassionate and knowledgeable mentor who has guided her throughout a nearly three-year fellowship in hematology and oncology.
“Stephanie was the right person for me. She encourages me and understands my commitment. She is great. Also, this is where I wanted to be, the Mecca of transplants,” she said. “And I wanted to do transplants and continue seeing patients.”
For several years now, Hutchinson Center faculty members have been training and inspiring fellows to work in the area of long-term follow-up studies involving transplant patients. And it’s a role that the Center takes seriously.
“With more survivors in our midst, it’s imperative to continue making strides on making their lives better,” Nandita said. “We have a growing pool of survivors, and there’s an acknowledgment in our scientific community that we have to increase our attention on the outcomes of survivors.”
Readers will recognize one of her contributions on the front page of this newsletter. Nandita recently completed a study that looked at preventive care practices among transplantation survivors.
Nandita also recently started focusing on the clinical care of patients who require intense follow-up after discharge from the transplant service at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, the treatment arm of the Center.
“When caring for post-transplant patients at the hematology/oncology clinic at the SCCA, we assure our patients that we’re still there for them, and that we are helping them make a transition to a normal life. It’s a constant process to get people to move into normalcy. It’s so important for them to have a good quality of life,” she said.
Nandita received her medical degree in India, married Pawan and they moved to Pittsburgh, where she completed her residency. As part of her studies, she came to Hutchinson Center for a month and liked the program so much that she convinced her husband that they needed to move to Seattle.
With the city as their current home, they now have another baby, Parth, who’ll soon be 1.
When she is not busy with her family and her studies—she is seeking a master’s in public health—Nandita is with her patients.
“Patients become so attached to you, and in turn, you feel so responsible for them and their well-being. Working for them is one of the most gratifying parts of my job,” she said.