Why did you decide to work in palliative care?
In 2002 I opted mid-stream to shift from general IM/critical care to geriatrics and my new practice partner was coincidentally assisting with the development of an in-patient PC program. I found myself cross-covering for her and the anchor for the PC service, a nurse practitioner named Bonnie, essentially held my hand as we met with patients and families. It all stuck – quickly formed and intense relationships, prognostic uncertainty, collaborating with other providers – and I decided to focus exclusively upon PC (largely in ICUs) for the next several years. Since then, I’ve woven a path back and forth from geriatrics to PC yet, with the latter, have stepped out of the hospital into the community where trajectories are stretched out and the focus is upon continuity. (My mentor, Bonnie, is happily retired in California).
What is your favorite part of your job?
Navigating the tensions – the tension between providing much-needed guidance but not too much, between having a family conference which is structured yet allows for detours and improvisation, between teaching and learning, advocating for the patient yet including the family, hoping for the best but preparing for the worst and so forth.
Trying to remember that who a patient has been remains a part of who they are now.
Employing the history and an evidence-based physical exam at the bedside for, in the home and long-term care setting, these are our tools of the trade.
What do you enjoy most about living in the Triangle area?
Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC), UNC tennis, ample forested trails for hiking and biking, Mediterranean Deli and being within striking distance of both mountains and ocean. Plus, a friendly vibe, a community open to newcomers.