As a nurse practitioner in surgical oncology at Vanderbilt Breast Center, I care for a variety of patients with many different issues, some minor, some unfortunately not. I provide comprehensive exams, order imaging, review films with our radiologists, educate the patient on test results, and formulate a plan of care to address the concerns at hand. I evaluate patients with problems ranging from breast cysts and pain to abnormal mammograms, even signs of cancer recurrence. Often, I am able to give reassurance that everything is OK and results are benign. When that is not possible, I am able to offer support through the process: from evaluation of a mass through the imaging and biopsy, pathology results, and if needed, referral to a surgical oncologist, reconstructive surgeon, medical oncologist, and genetic counselor. One of the most rewarding experiences this position affords me is when a patient I had to call with malignant pathology results is returned back to my care two to three years later. I am able to reconnect with her and say “You did it! You made it through!” This is one of the greatest joys of my job!
One part of this position I really enjoy is our High Risk Clinic. Here, we see patients with a family history of breast cancer, a history of chest irradiation, anything that might cause them to be at an increased risk. We evaluate and perform a risk assessment, educate, and discuss management options with her. It is fulfilling to be able to help a woman decrease her risk of breast cancer or at least find it early, should it ever occur.
Besides having my own clinic 3 days a week, I spend one day a week working in collaboration with a physician. I see patients who are newly diagnosed and after formulating a plan with the surgeon, discuss the diagnosis, surgical treatment options and recommendations with the patient, providing much-needed information while decreasing the surgeon’s work load. I help with surgery planning and other needed referrals as well. We often review the patient’s case in our weekly multidisciplinary clinic and recommended treatments are then discussed with the patient.
The Breast Center has grown immensely since I started here in August 2009. At that time there were only two NPs. Since then we’ve added two NPs in medical oncology and a third NP for surgical oncology—5 total. We have a wonderful team and I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from working alongside many great surgeons, radiologists, medical oncologists, and my NP partners. I consider myself blessed to be able to take one of the most frightening experiences a person can be faced with and make it, hopefully, a little less scary and a little less overwhelming.
I am a born-and-bred Nashvillian and when not working, I enjoy antiquing, gardening, and fixing up my 115 year old house. I am also the mom to 6 rescued “furbabies”—4 dogs and 2 cats.