That impact can be felt in her dedication to her patients and the person-centred approach she takes to their care; and in her ability to translate large amounts of complex medical information into manageable, understandable chunks – no small feat!
Dr. Simmons has also championed Breast Cancer Pathways, a project to identify tools to help breast cancer patients cope with the overwhelming amount of information and the number of appointments during breast cancer treatment. The first stage, underway now, gives a detailed view of the patient journey and aligns it with clinician touchpoints. The next stage is looking at opportunities for digital tools.
In addition to presenting papers at conferences and being a faculty member at UBC, Dr. Simmons has started two national networking groups: Women in Cancer (www.womenincancer.org) and All in Cancer (www.allincancer.org).
Dr. Christine Simmons embodies PHSA's values every day in her practice as a medical oncologist at BC Cancer; and her dedication, tenacity and inspired curiosity bring PHSA's mission to life daily.
Learn more about Dr. Simmons below.
Congratulations on your PHSA+ Award! Can you tell us a little bit about what you do at the BC Cancer Agency?
I am a medical oncologist at BC Cancer. I treat patients with breast cancer and with sarcoma. I also conduct clinical research with a special interest in locally advanced breast cancer, and I am involved in teaching and mentoring students, residents and fellows.
Why do you enjoy working at PHSA?
The ability to connect and provide care to patients no matter what part of the province they reside in is very rewarding. The overall mandate that care should be accessible and consistent across the province is so important, especially in cancer care, but we know that this can be challenging. It is very satisfying and rewarding to be able to assure a patient that the care and treatment that they would receive in Vancouver is the same care and treatment that they will receive closer to home, and with the help of video link and telecommunications, I can stay a part of their care team.
What do you like most about your job at BC Cancer?
The people I work with and the team of medical secretaries, doctors, residents, nurses, students, care aides and clerks are wonderful. The collaborative nature of this organization stimulates creativity and inspires research. And having a supportive team helps to ensure that we are providing the best care possible for our patients.
What is most rewarding about your job; what makes it all worthwhile?
Ultimately, the most rewarding aspect of this job is helping someone get through a challenging time in their life – be it a patient trying to get through a tough course of chemotherapy, a student trying to get into medical school, a colleague who may need to debrief about a tough case, or a patient and family who may be approaching an incurable illness. There are some challenges that are insurmountable, but if I can help the person facing that challenge, even if it is just in some small way, it makes it all worthwhile.
What has been your proudest moment at PHSA?
I am very proud and honored to be a recipient of this award.
How do the PHSA values show up in your work?
Being collaborative and cultivating connections is absolutely essential to cancer care – this is a disease that involves multiple body systems and requires a team approach in order to provide the best quality care to patients. I love this about my job. The other aspect of being an oncologist that is essential is continuing to contribute to research to improve outcomes of this disease. I find the respectful and collaborative culture of this organization fosters creativity and stimulates research ideas. This allows everyone working at BC Cancer to serve our patients with purpose and ensure that we are providing the best possible treatment to people with cancer in British Columbia.
Congratulations on your PHSA+ Award Dr. Simmons! Well deserved!