I trained at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS) in internal medicine and focused my research and skill development in palliative care. Following completion of a fellowship in hematology/oncology there, I joined The Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ) in 2008 as an assistant professor of medicine with a focus on thoracic oncology and hematological malignancies.
Since 2011, I have been the medical director at CINJ-Hamilton, where I am responsible for developing and maintaining a patient-centered cancer program tailored toward both patient and family. Our program is focused on the treatment of cancer, as well as prevention and screening aspects for our community.
My first understanding of treating the “whole” patient and not just the disease came early in my career. As a first year student at UMDNJ-RWJMS, I took part in a program that paired me with an elderly Indian female patient with gynecological cancer. My experiences with her visits to CINJ for treatments and doctor’s appointments, hospitalizations and eventually her death, made a lasting impression on my development as a physician.
From that time, I knew that good communication between doctor and patient was a critical aspect in providing comprehensive care. With that, I completed training in Communication Skills through attending Oncotalk (http://depts.washington.edu/oncotalk/) , an NCI sponsored research study. I also completed Oncotalk Teach (http://depts.washington.edu/oncotalk/faculty_tch.html), a faculty development program in 2008. Sharpened communication skills continue to allow me to care for terminally ill patients. This was one of the lasting gifts from my patient from medical school.
Knowing that today’s physician training is key to how patient care is delivered and communicated in the future, I continued to contribute to the Oncotalk Teach program during 2009 - 2011. I am board certified in palliative care and also started a Palliative Care Symposium for the UMDNJ-RWJMS Department of Medicine and a teaching program for residents there.
Working collaboratively with CINJ physicians at Hamilton and in the Thoracic Oncology and Hematologic Malignancies Program in New Brunswick, I am part of a comprehensive team that focuses on the ‘whole patient.’ This includes facilitating clinical trial enrollment at both CINJ locations so that patients can get the treatment they need close to home.
I continue to be amazed by the teaching my patients give me each and every day by “living with cancer.” They teach me the most important things in life are the people I am surrounded by every day - my family, my colleagues and my patients. It is my continuing goal to remain abreast of the latest treatments, technologies and communication aspects, so that I can provide the best of care to the Central Jersey community.
Hematologic disorders, lung cancer, palliative care
Sister Marie DiPazzi award for Scholarship, Humanism and Professionalism, 2005
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