24: Communicating Care with Patients and Communicating Brain Science Online - Interview with Dr. Ginger Campbell, Palliative Medicine Physician at Birmingham VAMC and Host of Brain Science Podcast
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Dr. Ginger Campbell is Palliative Medicine Physician at Birmingham VA Medical Center. She previously spent over 20 years as an emergency medicine physician. She also hosts the Brain Science Podcast, which has been running for over 10 years.
Palliative care is the newest speciality in medicine. Palliative comes from a Greek word which means "to shield". So the basic idea of palliative care is to protect patients and their families from suffering. It can be from pain, including psychological, and all the things that come with a life-threatening illness. People often think of palliative care as taking care of people at end of life, but actually often palliative care involves taking care of people for many years if the illness is challenging from a symptom perspective. (There is even pediatric palliative care for kids, so it doesn't have to be just for older patients.) Palliative care complements other specialities, since medicine has become very specialized, and so often remembering how the patient feels actually gets lost, while trying to cure them.
Birmingham VA Hospital is the forefront of palliative care in the United States, where Dr. Campbell works at, and she takes part in training the next generation of physicians as students rotate into the hospital.
In palliative care, communication is very important. This involves speaking with patients and their families, to understand their priorities, and help them make decisions regarding treatments (or not doing treatments at all).
Dr. Campbell worked as an emergency medicine physician in small rural towns for over 20 years before joining palliative medicine a few years ago. She says that unfortunately due to country's medical system, in small towns, the emergency room becomes the safety net, and she cared for a lot of smaller, not necessarily "emergency" conditions throughout her time. Every day was different and she enjoyed it.
Dr. Campbell moved with her family to Alabama in 1964. She started as an electrical engineering major in college at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. But in her last year, she realized she liked people more than engineering. She went on to do a masters degree in biomedical engineering at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and then went to medical school at the University of Alabama School of Medicine.
Dr. Campbell hosts the Brain Science Podcast, which is a show that gives accurate science, but is accessible to people of all backgrounds. She says that coverage of science, and neuroscience specifically, in the media, is not very accurate. Her show is able to provide real science, and in particular, she interviews practicing scientists, and often those guests are authors too.
Dr. Campbell says its okay to be not sure about you career path and know immediately what you want to do. She says people nowadays will have multiple careers. It's fine to change.
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