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Advanced Practice Providers build trust while serving patients and families

  • Mission

Affable. Available. Able.

The Advanced Practice Provider (APP) team at Mission Cancer + Blood (MCB) works to live out these — the organization’s core values — with every patient interaction. 

Advanced practice providers (APPs) are a group of medical professionals that include Physician Assistants and Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners who are a critical component to the provision of world class care at Mission. APPs are fully integrated into our practice at Mission and work either directly with a Physician on the Physician team or serve our patients through the Flex APP program.  Every patient at Mission will likely have the privilege of being cared for by an APP whether at a scheduled office visit, an acute visit in our chemotherapy suite, or during an after-hours call. Mission APPs work in collaboration with our physicians and healthcare team members to provide the best patient care possible. 

Like the rest of Mission, the APP team is focused on the core values in the performance of their function.  That focus is critical, as patients usually meet with an APP team member soon after their initial diagnosis.  “Establishing trust with a patient right away is key to building a strong relationship,” said Nikki Morgan, ARNP and the Flex APP Team Director.

Morgan’s Flex APP team rotates between each Mission clinic to do acute consultations, chemotherapy education, regimen education and more. “Our job is to help prepare our patients and families for what to expect during their visits to MCB, as well as empower them with information on their treatment,” Morgan explained. “We go over possible side effects and things to watch out for when they are at home. This way, we can help them distinguish between a typical symptom and what necessitates a visit to the emergency room.”

Because her team works across all Mission locations, Morgan says they get to know a lot of patients and their families, as well as the other provider teams at each Mission location. “Every team member at Mission is focused on the same thing: exceptional patient care,” Morgan said. “When we come together for a patient, to share information and ideas, that’s when we can do our best work.”

Aaron Anderson, Physician Assistant, and part of the physician aligned team, agrees. “Our patients naturally have a lot of questions when they first receive their diagnosis,” Anderson said. “We always tell them, there aren’t any bad questions and to always reach out. They just received life-changing information. We take our role in education and emotional support very seriously.”

Anderson and the other members of the physician-aligned team work closely with their dedicated oncologist to help patients navigate how their chemotherapy treatments will impact their daily lives. “New patients will call in multiple times a day, and that’s exactly what we want,” Anderson said. “From helping them understand how chemotherapy will impact other medications to anticipating side effects, our goal is to equip patients and their families with all the information they need to feel more confident and in control.”

Patient education is especially near and dear to Anderson’s heart as a former schoolteacher. “I love being able to help a patient build a strong foundation of knowledge about their treatment and regimen, and also serve as part of their support system.”

Brooke Dannen, Physician Assistant, echoes those sentiments and said she loves every aspect of oncology. “I’m invigorated both by digging into the research and the medicine, but also the opportunity to help our patients work toward their goals and dreams as they are going through treatment,” Dannen said. She also loves working with the other healthcare providers at MCB because everyone brings something different to the table. “We really play to each other’s strengths and bring balance to the organization. I think that’s one of the reasons we build such strong relationships with our patients, because we can give them a well-rounded, holistic experience of care.”

That support system has been even more critical as patients navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. “Our patients know they are high-risk, so we’re seeing them take every precaution. They take what’s going on very seriously, even as states begin to open back up,” Morgan said. “They are very concerned about unknowingly encountering someone who has COVID-19. That’s why it is so important that we remain vigilant about masking, social distancing and staying home [as much as possible]. We need to remember the vulnerable populations we are trying to protect.”

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