At Hospice of Chattanooga, Dr. Kathleen Locker helps her patients – many of whom are facing terminal illnesses – understand their medical scenario and make informed decisions about their treatment options. She views her profession like this: “Each patient is a book, and I have been invited into the story in the late chapters – the preceding chapters are often amazing and should not be neglected. I am often allowed to see how the book ends; this is an honor, and I try to earn it.” Working in such an emotional environment, Dr. Locker feels fortunate to have a close-knit team by her side. “My colleagues and staff are so supportive, and we function so well as a team,” she shares. “I always have someone who will listen and who really understands the stress that often comes with this profession – but this is truly where I belong.”
“The kind words from my patients and their families mean the most to me.”
1. What sets your practice apart?
I work in the unique environment of caring for people facing serious, chronic illness and often terminal illness. Being part of the medical team tasked with helping people accept mortality and determine their wishes in that setting is what sets my practice apart.
2. What is your best advice for patients?
Your body is yours. Your medical team, physician and all, are there to advise you based upon your medical conditions and your priorities. You are also part of the team – work with them to set reachable goals.
3. Why have you chosen this field of specialty?
It feels most comfortable, most genuine, and most natural to me to be with those who are facing serious illness and/or death.
4. What’s the key to making a great first impression?
Look the person in the eye, listen to what they say, and ask questions. This lets them know that you are interested and focused on them, not on your own agenda.
5. What do you see as the most exciting new development for your profession?
There seems to be a cultural shift which makes it acceptable for people to talk about death and dying. It has been a taboo subject for years, yet it is part of every living thing’s destiny. We are now beginning to address it more openly in medical settings, as well as socially.
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