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Trisha Cooper, PA-C, MSM

cooper_spotlight_photoI graduated from Trevecca’s PA Program in the fall of 2007.  Immediately out of school, I worked for a Head and Neck surgeon and eventually transitioned to private practice neurosurgery at Centennial.  In January 2011, I started my career at Vanderbilt and was originally hired to work solely with Dr. Tulipan, a pediatric neurosurgeon.  Over the following three years working side-by-side with Dr. Tulipan, I was able to care for patients throughout the lifespan of a disease process.  This could range from assisting in myelo-in-utero cases to managing patients in their 90’s.  While working with Dr. Tulipan, my primary responsibilities included seeing patients in clinic for pre-operative assessment, assisting Dr. Tulipan in surgery, taking care of the patients while they were in the hospital, and then seeing the patients for their first post-operative appointment.   In the OR I was most often tasked with placing shunts in the brain to drain excess cerebrospinal fluid.   

Dr. Tulipan recently retired and my role at Vanderbilt Neurosurgery is changing substantially. I transitioned to work exclusively in adult Neurosurgery and have taken over the adult hydrocephalus practice.  While I still place shunts in the OR and see patients in clinic, I am not a member of the Functional Neurosurgery team and am starting to assist in Deep Brain Stimulation cases.

cooper_spotlight_photo2My new role in adult neurosurgery may be quite different from pediatrics, but it is no less rewarding.  In addition to my time in the OR and managing clinic, I help teach junior residents on how to place, tap, and reprogram shunts, how to place intracranial pressure monitors, and how to properly care for shunt patients in the ED.  Additionally, I have had the pleasure of being a preceptor to PA students and have given multiple college students a shadowing opportunity for their application for PA school. 

While at Vanderbilt, I have had the opportunity to serve in leadership roles including serving as co-chair for the APN council and as the PA representative to the AP Leadership Committee.   For the past two years, I have chaired the Nashville Hydrocephalus Walk where we have seen over 600 participants and raised over $33,000 each year.  The money raised goes toward hydrocephalus research and all of the money raised stays in the Nashville area as Vanderbilt is one of only 10 centers in the nation that is part of the Hydrocephalus Clinic Research Network (HCRN).

My personal interests include reading, hiking, backpacking, and travelling.  My next backpacking trip is planned in October to the Weminuche Wilderness in Colorado.  We hope to spend three or four nights in the mountains and climb a “14er” (a mountain peak over 14,000 ft in elevation).