This week’s faculty spotlight shines on Kristin Page, MD, MHS, assistant professor of pediatrics in the Division of Blood and Marrow Transplantation. Page talks to us about how she transitioned from a career as an educator to becoming a physician in pediatric blood and marrow transplantation. She discusses her particular interest in the underlying science of transplant which she finds fascinating as the field continues to change at a rapid pace. She also offers some valuable advice to trainees and insights into her current work focused on redesigning the current approach to how patients are cared for following transplant.
How long have you been at Duke? How did you decide to come here?
I have been at Duke for 14 years now (three as a fellow and eleven as faculty). When considering fellowship programs, I applied to programs that I thought could best prepare me for an academic career. The deal I made with my husband was that I would identify the programs that would be best for my career path. He would be in charge of figuring out where he would like to live for what I promised would “only be three years”. While I was interviewing, he would explore the area and try to get a sense of what our life would be like there. In the end, Duke met the bars we both set. Three years has quickly become fourteen.
What are your current responsibilities within the Department of Pediatrics? What does your typical day look like?
I am an attending in the Division of Pediatric Transplant and Cellular Therapy. My clinical responsibilities include seeing outpatients in our clinic one day a week and spending time covering our inpatient unit (5200). When I am not seeing patients, I may be following up on questions from patients or reviewing literature to help answer clinical questions. I participate in different committees at Duke and through multi-center collaborations. I also perform clinical research which, depending on the day, means I may be reviewing data, working on grant applications, or writing manuscripts. Generally, each day is a little different which keeps things interesting for me.
How did you first get interested in medicine? What made you decide to pursue pediatric blood and marrow transplantation in particular?
I first became interested in medicine during college. At the time, I was also considering a career in education. Ultimately, I decided to pursue a Master of Education and worked as a high school chemistry/biology teacher at the same time. I realized rather quickly that this career path wasn’t right for me. I completed my degree and started medical school several months later. As I considered residency, I really did consider other paths. Nobody was surprised when I chose pediatrics. During residency, I found myself drawn to hematology/oncology and eventually found my way to transplant for a variety of reasons. Taking care of children and adolescents going through transplant is both inspiring and rewarding. I find the underlying science fascinating and the field continues to change at a rapid pace. As a clinical researcher, this is a field that lends itself well to research. It has now been twenty years since I taught ninth grade biology and AP chemistry, but all of these experiences have enhanced who I am today.
What’s one thing you wished more of your patients knew about blood and marrow transplantation or medicine in general?
To be honest, I can’t think of a single particular question that I hear frequently from our patients or their families. We spend a lot of time prior to transplant providing education to the family. I think that is an invaluable part of the transplant process and helps answer many of their questions beforehand. The families also know that our entire team is dedicated to providing the best possible care for their child and we are partnering with them to achieve this.
What are your specific interests in the field of pediatric blood and marrow transplantation? What do you enjoy most about your work?
Over the past year, I have been focusing on redesigning our approach to how we care for our patients after transplant. Overall, the number of long-term survivors of childhood cancer and stem cell transplant is increasing. This success is the result of advances in treatment and supportive care over time. We know that these children, adolescents and young adults are at risk for a variety of different long-term complications. To best serve their needs, we have been piloting a new multidisciplinary clinic since June. I hope to expand this clinic and the services we can provide over time. I am also working on research opportunities and would love to develop a clinical experience for trainees.
You completed your fellowship at Duke--do you have any advice for trainees?
Duke is a wonderful place to train. In pediatrics, we have so many interesting and accomplished people that can mentor and, more importantly, sponsor our trainees. It has really only been the past few years that I have explored more of what Duke as an institution has to offer. I would encourage trainees to carve out even a little time to listen to grand rounds in another discipline or attend an event on campus. In the long run, this practice will enrich your clinical practice and your life outside of medicine.
What passions or hobbies do you have outside of work?
Living in the Triangle, there is so much to do outside of work. I have three kids (ages 11-14) that have very active lives themselves. I can often be found on the sidelines of soccer or field hockey games cheering. We also have a yellow lab that loves to go on walks.