New fellowship helps cancer patients and their caregivers

Department news | November 30, 2023

Cancer patients and survivors can face substantial psychosocial and emotional challenges at all stages of their treatment including depression, demoralization, fear of recurrence, deteriorating self-esteem, poor body image and difficulties in social relationships. Family members and caregivers face their own challenges such as sadness, anxiety, helplessness, and anger at the possibility of losing a loved one. How and when these challenges are addressed can make a substantial difference on treatment outcomes for the patient and the quality of life for everyone involved.

Our new Consultation-Liaison Psycho-Oncology Fellowship — the first and only ACGME-accredited West Coast Fellowship of its kind — will help meet the growing needs of cancer patients and their families and caregivers with an emphasis on the unique issues associated with each type of cancer. Directed by Julia Ruark, MD, MPH, and supported by our Education Team led by Athena Wong, the new Fellowship is a partnership between our Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry Fellowship Program directed by Tom Soeprono, MD, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center (FHCC). Fellows will add valuable additional clinical services as part of our growing Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry services at UW Medicine and FHCC, and trainees will benefit from a rich, educational environment promoting clinical psychiatric consultation and research in inpatient medical and surgical wards and outpatient oncology and primary care settings. We will welcome our inaugural Psycho-Oncology fellow to the program in July 2024.