Oncology in Missoula

mountain.jpgI was putting in a lot of hours, by my choice, because I was learning so much. The community doctors constantly impressed me with how good they were at everything. They were amazing diagnosticians. The oncologist I worked with, John Trauscht, was an outstanding teacher, and I loved his curiosity. John had a great way of communicating with his patients, bringing everything to their level, and always gave patients the choice of doing nothing. I saw all of his new patients and performed bone marrow aspirates and biopsies, so I was first to see and diagnose patients rather than the fifth or sixth person down the chart. One memorable patient was a middle-aged man with Burkitt’s who continued to decline despite aggressive chemo. He developed PCP in the hospital and then an HIV test came back positive. The diagnosis was incredibly devastating and it was interesting to see everybody’s reactions. He died three days before I left. Taking care of him made a huge impact on me … I loved Montana. Everyone in Missoula loves living there, and I felt very much a part of the land.

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  1. Nina Kim is now practicing infectious disease and HIV medicine at Harborview Medical Center.

    Interview by Audrey Young, 2002 graduate, author of “What Patients Taught Me.” Photograph by Peter Ser, 2002 graduate.

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