Training, Enthusiasm Drive Caughran

October 29, 2008
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Look past the paperwork, forget about long hours and pay no attention to that declining reimbursement in the corner: Dr. Jamie Caughran, the new director of the Comprehensive Breast Center at Saint Mary’s Health Care, is a young doctor with a contagious enthusiasm for her profession.

Following a year-long fellowship at Beaumont Hospital in Southeast Michigan, Caughran is fired up about streamlining Saint Mary’s breast health services.

“What’s good right now is that they have a multidisciplinary system set up where they have a pathway to get patients through quickly — from suspicion of something, to figuring out what it is, to diagnosis and then treatment plan,” said Caughran, a graduate of Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine.

Caughran said she’ll be working to make the diagnosis process quicker and more efficient for patients.

“Then there’s a bunch of programs we’re going to try to develop or at least expand on: survivorship programs, high-risk follow-up. … Then I’m trying to get a sense of how things are working both for the patient and for the primary care physician as far as getting your patients through the system, what is working well and what we need to improve on.”

Caughran marched through Western Michigan University in three years and was the youngest in her class at the MSU med school. During her residency in Grand Rapids, Caughran said, she worked closely with local surgeon Dr. Laura Kelsey and decided to also become a surgeon.

During her fellowship — only 28 such programs exist in the U.S. — Caughran spent six months concentrating on breast surgery, learning cancer-excising techniques that also prepare the patient for plastic surgery.

She also studied medical and radiation oncology and genetics. The field is changing so quickly, Caughran said, that some of the advances she learned in the first six months were outmoded by the end of the fellowship.

“I’m very grateful for my job,” she said. “I love my job.”

—Elizabeth Slowik

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