Contact: Karl Hertz
Allison Barnett hails from a long line of physicians. Though both her father and grandfather were doctors, Barnett originally did not plan on being part of the medical field. With an undergraduate degree in communications, Barnett had different aspirations when she started her career. But after moving to Douglas, Barnett ultimately found herself working in Memorial Hospital of Converse County's respiratory therapy department, where she has worked for the last 23 years.
Throughout the years she received various certifications and continued her education. A couple of years ago she decided to take a huge leap by returning to school to become a physician assistant. While continuing to work in the hospital's respiratory therapy department, Barnett began to meticulously plan her return to college when it was the right time for her family and career.
"For the last 10 years I've wanted to go back to school," Barnett said. "I saved up the money to go. It's a big commitment."
On the cusp of launching her plans, everything changed. Just days before interviewing for the program, Barnett was diagnosed with breast cancer. Unwilling to change her plans, Barnett completed chemotherapy and radiation as she also began her coursework. Despite juggling her health care and her school work, Barnett said she felt a stronger commitment to the program and knew she was on the right path.
"It was a crazy two years for sure," Barnett said. "But I know this is where I'm supposed to be and what I'm supposed to be doing. I feel really fortunate because a lot of us don't know what our purpose in life is . . . this is my purpose."
Barnett graduated in May and is now working as a clinic physician assistant under the supervision of Dr. Casey Starks and is enjoying working with patients through a different capacity.
"I know a lot of people in the community and I care about them and want to care for them," Barnett said. "I like families and I like children a lot and I like to take care of them."
With her years spent in the respiratory therapy department, Barnett has a deep understanding of asthma, COPD and other respiratory related concerns. That experience, coupled with a variety of experiences gained from her various medical rotations, Barnett said she's eager to help her patients in any way possible.
"I have years of experience, I have great knowledge of respiratory and cardiology," Barnett said. "I enjoy helping patients make one small change in their lives and seeing it make a huge difference. I enjoy the ability to effect that change."
In addition, her own recent experience with cancer treatment is something that Barnett said has taught her many things as a person, provider and patient advocate.
"I think it gives me a unique perspective that some providers don't have," Barnett said. "I think most people can empathize with someone going through cancer treatment but I understand on a personal level. It has definitely shown me the wonderful value of hope in regards to disease and the importance of hope in our daily lives."
Now Barnett is also working within a wide network of physicians and nurses at Memorial Hospital of Converse County. Not only does she enjoy the diversity of diagnoses and patients she sees, but also the colleagues she works with on a daily basis.
"I like the fact it's different every day," Barnett said. "This is an awesome place to work. In the clinic, the group of physicians works well together."
Ultimately, Barnett said she's excited to continue to be part of the team at Memorial Hospital of Converse County. While she's looking forward to working with patients in this new position, Barnett said she knows it will still present its challenges and that she will continue to grow professionally.
"I'm a lifelong learner," Barnett said. "I will continue to seek out educational opportunities. Medicine changes so much, so fast and that drives me to continue to learn every day."
To schedule an appointment with Barnett, call 307-358-7300.