Diagnostic radiologist. Cross-country skier. Mom of three.
If you had asked 8-year-old Jen what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would have told you “a doctor.” She never changed her mind. Today, she’s Dr. Jennifer Ochsner, a fellowship-trained diagnostic radiologist, practicing exclusively in breast imaging at Vancouver Clinic’s Breast Care Center.
“I wanted to do something that would help people, that was challenging, that would enable me to feel useful,” she says. “I just knew.”
Dr. Ochsner spends her days reviewing images, consulting with other doctors, performing breast biopsies, and talking to patients who have a higher risk of cancer or who have been newly diagnosed. This often means helping women who are worried, scared, nervous, or even angry. During these times, Dr. Ochsner likes to pause and understand what’s driving patients’ feelings. Sometimes women may be worried about a procedure or the results, or their minds may be on a friend or family member with cancer.
“I want people to feel respected and heard,” she says. “I also try and give people some perspective. Women don’t need unnecessary worry. I hopefully can put people at ease.”
Whether patients are there for an annual mammogram or for other tests, Dr. Ochsner knows that they have a great team of caregivers behind them.
“Everyone is looking to solve problems. Everyone is on board for patient care,” she says. “I feel like a patient who comes in will have a really great experience.”
Dr. Ochsner says she is also proud of the breast program that patients enter into if they are diagnosed with breast cancer. Surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, and pathologists sit down together to create and suggest a care plan for patients. The center’s nurse navigator coordinates care for patients, ensuring it’s seamless and timely.
“We are very interconnected,” she says. “Patients who come through our program say they are happy with the care they receive.”
One of the medical advances that is making care easier and more comfortable for Vancouver Clinic patients is seed localization. Instead of inserting wires into a breast mass that needs to be removed and sending a patient into surgery that day, Dr. Ochsner can insert a small magnetic seed into the mass. The patient then has surgery within the next 30 days. Studies show the approach is as effective as the traditional wire.
While dealing with serious medical issues every day could get some people down, Dr. Ochsner says that being a generally positive person and keeping a big overall perspective is helpful. She also doesn’t have energy to waste. When not at work, Dr. Ochsner keeps up with her three elementary school-age children, coaches a kids’ lacrosse team, and takes her family to the mountains to go skiing and snowshoeing. She runs at least three times a week and recently completed the Washington to Coast Relay.
“As a breast care specialist, I encourage women to stay active, get their screenings, and feel confident that they have an incredible team of people here to help them look after their health,” she says.