Meet the Specialist who Coordinates Your Care
, by Brittany Cordeiro, NCI-CONNECT Program Manager
Patient Care Coordinator Kristen Oshin shares how she provides comfort and guidance to people with brain and spine tumors and their caregivers. She guides them through appointments, answers follow-up questions and helps address any care concerns.
If you are newly diagnosed with a brain or spine tumor, you may feel frightened or overwhelmed. Where do you go for treatments? Who do you call for a second opinion? How can you receive care at NIH? You can feel reassured when you contact us. Our Patient Care Coordinator Kristen Oshin is ready to guide you every step of your journey.
“I connect with patients and listen to their story so I can help meet their needs,” says Oshin, of the Neuro-Oncology Branch, Cancer for Cancer Research at NCI. Her work runs the gamut, from helping new patients schedule their first appointment to answering questions and concerns of long-term patients.
Oshin joined the Neuro-Oncology Branch in June 2018. She previously worked as a research assistant at MedStar Health, then at the National Integrated Health Associates where she managed patient appointments and taught health and wellness in the community. Her interest in people affected by brain abnormalities and novel treatments for cancers led her to her current role with NCI-CONNECT.
“What we do to coordinate the care of patients is not robotic,” Oshin says. It requires a lot of personalized communications with the patient and their caregiver and neuro-oncology providers to make the appointment and clinical care process simple and stress-free.
Your First Appointment
People newly diagnosed with a brain or spine tumor should contact the Neuro-Oncology Branch to schedule an appointment. Our health care providers are experienced at treating brain and spine tumors and our NCI-CONNECT clinic offers unique services. Due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), our normal operating procedures have changed. Your health care provider should contact us first to discuss your care.
It is important for patients and their referring physicians to understand that us coordinators are here to help.
“I really emphasize that we will walk them through the appointment process from gathering the necessary records to helping book travel for the patient,” Oshin says
Oshin provides a step-by-step guide and detailed information to make the process for new patients simple and seamless. If a referring physician contacts Oshin, she connects them with an NCI-CONNECT neuro-oncologist while gathering information on the patient. Our neuro-oncologists partner with the referring physician to discuss the best care options for the patient and optimal timing of the patient to travel to NIH.
NCI-CONNECT offers patients and their caregivers travel assistance that includes transportation, food and lodging. “We do our best to make it a pleasant experience when patients come to NIH. This includes ensuring they get to the proper places within the clinical center,” Oshin says.
The good news for patients is that Oshin remains involved throughout their clinical care at NIH.
Follow-up Care Guidance
When new patients contact Oshin, she learns their story and continues to follow them long-term. From booking subsequent appointments to answering one-off questions.
“The care coordinators are the first line of defense for patient queries. It is best for them to come to us first because we can triage their concerns efficiently and get the answer they need,” Oshin explains.
Oshin feels blessed to meet patients and their caregivers and go through their journey with them. She knows the anxiety they may feel and provides comfort and encouragement.
Advice to Patients
Oshin shares with patients the services offered within the NCI-CONNECT Clinic and encourages them to participate. In particular, she recommends an educational and support group called CARES (Coping, Advocacy, Relationships, Education, Support).
CARES is led by NCI-CONNECT Health and Wellness Counselor Alvina Acquaye. “The topics are great and people who participate really get a lot out of it,” Oshin says. “We also have wonderful doctors who have worked with rare tumors for many years, so patients can trust that they are in good hands at NIH.”
Oshin acknowledges that the appointment process can be lengthy and for patients on treatments the current global pandemic can be concerning. Yet, the coordinators support and guide each patient and fulfill each person’s needs as best they can. “We enjoy bringing people here. We just wish we met them under better circumstances,” Oshin says.