Urology Week: "A Rare Privilege to Do What I Do"
September 24 to 28 is Urology Week and a chance for us to highlight the amazing work taking place in Riley’s Urology Department.
Imagine a job where nearly every personal interaction involves breaking down barriers to discuss sensitive topics. Add to that mix children. That is the world of a pediatric urologist. They are surgeons who diagnose and treat children’s urinary and genital problems.
Riley Hospital for Children has one of the best pediatric urology programs in the world, and the only one in Indiana. The department is currently made up of seven pediatric urologists, four nurse practitioners and served 6,914 kids from 2015 to 2017.
Katherine Chan, M.D., M.P.H., has been a part of this exceptional team for 5 years. She completed a 3-year urology fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital / Harvard Medical School and is very passionate about her work.
What drew her to urology?
“I really loved surgery. I loved how my work impacts kids. At Riley we treat a lot of birth defects. We can help them improve their physical appearance and urinate better. And ensure their life with their condition is as good as it can be.”
‘As good as it can be’ keeps getting better at Riley. The urology department received Riley Children's Foundation support for the daVinci® surgical robot, which allows for minimally invasive surgery resulting in less recovery time and fewer complications.
In addition, Chan is involved in a 5-year grant that started in May 2017. It’s a career development award from the National Institutes of Health for salary support and research funding to create decision support tools for parents who are considering surgery for their children.
“For all surgeries, parents are making decisions on their kids’ behalf. The decision making process can be stressful because the results of the surgeries are irreversible,” says Chan.
Simply put, research like Chan’s improves patient care.
2017 Riley Champion Alli Wilsbacher knows firsthand how superb the patient care is. Diagnosed at age 10 with dysfunctional voiding, Alli’s condition did not require surgery but she was treated for 7 years by Riley’s urology department at their clinic in Deaconess Hospital in Evansville.
Now 17 years old, this poised young lady reflects back: “I had no idea Riley was going to be able to help me as well as they did. I remember being in gym class and thinking everyone would know about my problem. It was an uncomfortable issue for a kid. But everyone in the Riley clinic always made me feel okay about it. I truly wouldn’t have the confidence I have without Riley.”
Today, Alli has confidence nailed. She is a talented vocalist who has even sung the national anthem at an Indiana Pacers game.
Chan is part of a team of experts that delivers that confidence, and changes kids’ lives.
“I have two girls myself,” says Chan. “My mindset changed with motherhood. I have more insight into the anxiety parents feel when they turn their kids over to us, especially for surgery. It is a rare privilege to do what I do.”
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