December 6, 2023
“PAs are uniquely positioned to offer the extra time and attention patients need.”
October 27, 2022
By Dave Andrews
An estimated 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. And for many women, the pervasiveness of breast cancer continues to invoke a sense of fear and anxiety.
But Adriana Posadas, a PA at the Women’s Center of Winchester, is helping to alleviate some of those fears among her patients.
Speaking from Experience
Posadas knows through firsthand experience just how critical early detection is when fighting to overcome breast cancer. Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 42, and it ultimately took her life four years later.
“I think if she would have had a better relationship with her provider, she might have sought out care sooner,” Posadas said. “She knew she had a mass, but she was reluctant and scared to go see her doctor because she was afraid [to confirm] it was cancer.”
Posadas has also dealt with the disease herself. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020 and credits early detection as a reason why it is now in remission. “I knew I was at a high risk, based on my genetics, so I’d been getting screened annually ever since I was 32 years old.”
Posadas said she isn’t shy about sharing her experiences with her patients because she feels it helps them easily relate to one another and ultimately develop a higher level of trust.
“Sometimes my patients will be talking about the potential side effects of medications and that they’re afraid,” Posadas said. “But when I tell them that I’m taking those same medications and the side effects can be manageable, they appreciate it.”
Connecting with patients comes naturally to Posadas. She says the key, especially within the field of women’s health, is taking the time to truly listen to each patient to better understand their unique needs and apprehensions.
“It’s very important that we help the patient feel comfortable and let them know we are listening to their concerns,” Posadas said. “Some patients will feel like their feelings are dismissed by the provider, but PAs are uniquely positioned to offer the extra time and attention patients need.”
In a previous role at the Community Health Center in Winchester, Virginia, Posadas worked alongside pediatrician Dr. Daniel Fitzsimmons for nearly four years. Throughout their time together, Fitzsimmons noted the positive response patients had to Posadas’ sincere, individualized approach.
“Often the first thing a patient looks for is if their provider genuinely cares about them,” said Fitzsimmons, who has been practicing medicine for more than 20 years. “And with Adriana, I think her patients could immediately sense that sincerity in her.”
While at the Community Health Center, Posadas primarily focused on family medicine and enjoyed working with a diverse patient population on a wide variety of cases. But because she had always been drawn to women’s health, she eagerly accepted a position at the Women’s Center of Winchester in 2022. Despite her limited experience with genetic testing and screening, Posadas felt right at home from the very beginning.
“She’s a very enthusiastic learner and always willing to take time to learn from the geneticists and others we partner with,” said Dr. Kristin DeHaven, a gynecologist who oversees the Women’s Center. “She readily embraced what my practice has been doing with regard to preventative and holistic care, and she’s incorporated that into her own approach to care.”
Bridging Cultural Gaps
DeHaven says that even within the short amount of time Posadas has been on her staff, her presence has had a notable impact, especially within the region’s Hispanic population.
“We have a very vibrant Hispanic community, but they have long been underserved,” DeHaven said. “Many of them are underinsured and come from impoverished areas. But now we’re seeing more and more Hispanic patients at my practice, and I think it’s solely because of Adriana.”
Posadas is proud to help raise awareness about breast cancer, especially within the Hispanic community. But she acknowledges there are often challenges that stem from cultural differences.
“Some of our Hispanic patients, for example, are very skeptical of screenings,” Posadas said. “Many have never had a screening, or any other tests done, and they are opposed to them for a variety of reasons. So that can sometimes be tough to overcome.”
In those situations, Posadas says she does her best to explain the various screening options, and thoroughly reviews the benefits and risks. But in the end, she always lets her patients know that it’s their choice and that she respects their decisions.
Posadas’ keen sense of compassion and deep understanding of the emotions many of her patients experience continue to help an ever-growing number of women in her community feel more empowered with their health. Not only do her patients value her approach, but her colleagues are inspired as well.
“One of Adriana’s biggest strengths is her empathy with patients,” DeHaven said. “Sometimes you can get so busy that providing care becomes mechanical, but that is certainly not the case with Adriana. She brings a unique level of empathy that so few possess.”
Dave Andrews is a freelance writer and public relations professional based in Northern Virginia. Contact him at [email protected].
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