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Take care, Liz!

Research Assistant, Liz Kiernan, has departed the AYA Program to pursue a degree in medicine at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia. When asked what she enjoyed the most during her time with the program, Liz answered, how much I have learned. Working under the provider team has been an invaluable learning experience for both patient care skills and medical knowledge.

We asked Liz to describe some of the projects she has worked on, what she has learned from her time here and how her time with the AYA Program will influence her future work.

Projects:

When I first started here, Dr. Parsons proposed incorporating a health-related quality of life questionnaire into every clinical encounter in the AYA clinic, as an objective measure of tracking patient quality of life from their own perspective. It has been really great seeing the project progress in real-time and personally witnessing how patient-reported outcomes can complement the clinical encounter. It was valuable observing the way it helps patients open up and facilitates conversation.

I had the opportunity to aid Dr. Parsons and our statistician Angie Rodday in writing a chapter regarding healthcare economics as they relate to cancer diagnosis and treatment in AYA patients. Having studied healthcare policy as a minor in college, I have always had an interest in this. In my work on this chapter I learned an immense amount about the way economic theory is applied to the practice of medicine. It was a great privilege to have Dr. Parsons as a resource, as she holds a wealth of knowledge on these topics and never ceases to amaze me with the amazing explanation of these ideas.

Lasting lessons:

The resilience that AYA cancer patients and survivors have demonstrated in our clinic will have a lasting impact on me. As an AYA myself, it is easy to understand the strains and challenges that this transitional period of life presents. Having to deal with the burdens of cancer treatment and its aftermath can compound this strain in a myriad of predictable and completely unexpected ways. Getting to know patients and their stories has taught me about how much more goes into a patient’s health beyond the appointment start and end time, and that sometimes it is more important to be able to see where people differ rather than where they are the same.

Impact on future:

My background knowledge of cancer as a disease was mostly from my college education at the cellular level, and I was fascinated by the biological complexity. However, this year allowed me to see how that same level of complexity exists from the patient perspective. Every patient that has been affected by cancer fought an independent, courageous and challenging battle that had unique barriers, afflictions and needs. I was able to see the way individual values and backgrounds affect a person’s needs, and I hope to carry that perspective into everything I do to help others in the future.

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Good luck Liz, we wish you all the best!


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