For Dr. M. Michele Williams, taking care of the needs of her patients is of critical importance. That’s why Williams, a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) graduate, has devoted herself to implementing two programs that have changed the lives of those she serves.
As an oncology and palliative care nurse practitioner at University of Maryland (UM) Shore Regional Health, Williams worked with members of the UM Community Medical Group Pulmonary Care team to create and implement a lung cancer screening program at the hospital in July 2017.
Within a year, she screened 211 patients, of which there was at least one confirmed case of cancer and more than 40 patients who required further screening. By the third year, more than 400 patients had been screened through the program. In recognition of her work, Williams received the Martin D. Abeloff Award for Excellence in Public Health and Cancer Control from the Maryland Department of Health Center for Cancer Prevention and Control.
In addition, Williams helped create and implement a home-based palliative care program for patients with chronic illnesses, such as heart failure and dementia.
“Palliative care is about symptom management, so we see patients in their homes, assess their symptoms, call their primary care providers, and give recommendations for treatment,” Williams says. “Managing their illnesses in their homes keeps patients from going to the emergency room and being admitted to the hospital over and over again.”
Recently, Williams and a co-worker opened their own practice, Chesapeake Integrative Medicine. They specialize in evaluating and certifying palliative care patients for treatments and services to improve their quality of life.
Williams says Walden’s focus on social change inspired her to undertake these initiatives to help her community. “You have to follow your passion,” she says. “I couldn’t have done any of this without getting my doctorate, which gave me the tools to make change and feel confident and comfortable while doing so.”
Managing their illnesses in their homes keeps patients from going to the emergency room and being admitted to the hospital over and over again.