While 2020 was an unprecedented year for many people, for healthcare workers, they did what they always do- show up for their patients. 2021 is no different and that’s why we’re thrilled to be able to continue to honor those hard working healthcare professionals through our NeoPath Healthcare Heroes. It’s an opportunity to thank them for the heroic work they do that oftentimes goes unthanked. Healthcare and NeoPath wouldn’t be the same without them!
This month’s honoree is Dr. Elise Larson. Dr. Larson is an MD at our Health Works Clinic and has worked in healthcare for more than 20 years. It was a pleasure getting to sit down with Dr. Larson and learn a little about why she first went into healthcare, her favorite part of the job, and who her real-life hero was.
Related Reading: NeoPath’s Healthcare Hero: Robyn G.
Dr. Larson's “Why”
Dr. Larson’s journey in healthcare started in Ecuador, when she was a sophomore, studying Spanish and Psychology at St. Olaf College. While there, she became ill and had to be taken to the emergency room. “They took me to one of the private hospitals and I was attended to right away for my relatively mild illness," she said. "There were no separate rooms, so I could see everything going on around me in the busy ER. I was appalled to witness someone who had been in a serious car accident waiting for care while the hospital staff argued that he couldn't be seen there because he couldn't pay and needed to be taken to the public hospital instead. I just couldn't believe they weren't helping the poor guy! In retrospect, I was quite naive but I guess the indignation I felt was a potent motivator. I had already been searching for a career where I could make a difference in the lives of others and admired my cousins who were physicians.”
Upon returning to the U.S., Dr. Larson started on the path to becoming a physician. Because she was already half-way through college at that point, she had to take her medical school admission test later than most and had a year after college to do something else. During that time, she pursued a Master's Degree in Public Health in the field of Epidemiology. Looking back, that was one of the most important years of her life and really helped her understand the degree to which an individual's health is impacted by the people, community and infrastructure around them. “This public health lens has been critical in my current position taking care of people in their workplace, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Larson.
The Best Part of Dr. Larson's Job
When asked about the best part of her job, Dr. Larson said: “I am passionate about assisting, educating, and encouraging people to live their best, most healthy life! When someone entrusts their care to me, I am humbled. I view it as a partnership- and as a privilege which I do not take lightly. I firmly believe that the traditional ten minute office visit is inadequate to address most concerns. To have a meaningful and effective interaction with a patient takes time. I am especially grateful to be practicing in this setting because NeoPath allows me to manage my schedule and take the time I need to really get to know my patients and do my best for them.”
Dr. Larson's Real-Life Hero
This was an easy question for Dr. Larson. Without hesitation she shared that her mom was her real-life hero. “My mom was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis around the time I was born. Being a music teacher and church organist, she must have been heartbroken to slowly lose her physical ability to perform while having to push through her symptoms in order to carry on in her role as a farmer's wife and mother. Like many other people whose loved one has a serious medical condition, I learned a lot about the many and sometimes subtle ways in which illness affects a person and their family and gained empathy through that experience. She has demonstrated tenacity, courage, optimism, dignity, and grace despite all the challenges life has dealt her. I've had no better role model!”
Congratulations, Dr. Larson. We can’t thank you enough for all that you do for patients, your team, and healthcare as a whole. Thanks for being our real-life hero!