Helping Children and Families Cope and Treat Solid Tumors

Nurse Practitioner Erica Southworth works with children and families during one of the most difficult times of their lives: throughout the diagnosis and treatment of children’s complex solid tumors.

While she realizes that most parents are willing to do anything for their child, even if it means running from U-M clinic to clinic, or making repeated trips to Ann Arbor to meet with the various doctors, Southworth believes these families deserve better.

U-M’s doctors, nurses, and care team members have a culture of wanting to do a better job of caring for our families. In the case of children with solid tumors, caregivers wanted to not only improve the overall care of the patient, but also make it more convenient and less WORK for families.

Read more on the multidisciplinary Solid Tumor Oncology Program created to coordinate a child’s care, and Southworth’s role in empowering families with knowledge about treating their child’s solid tumor.

Improving the Patient Experience: How can we do this better?

By Erica Southworth, NP

As a nurse practitioner for the past seven years, I have had the privilege of being able to help many families through one of the most difficult times of their lives.

My area of specialization and interest is working with children and families faced with the diagnosis of a solid tumor, such as neuroblastoma or Wilms tumor.

Solid tumors are complex conditions that require a full team of specialists to treat.  Families are referred to us from all over Michigan and sometimes beyond. Often, prior to being sent to us, they may have experienced a long, frustrating and seemingly endless journey towards a diagnosis. As a professional and as a mother, I have always found it frustrating to see families who, having bounced around from appointment to appointment, are exhausted and scared when finally arriving at U-M. Even after their numerous appointments, they still possess little formal information about their child’s condition or disease.

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