Terry B. Gernsheimer, MD
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
University of Washington School of Medicine
Hematology, bleeding disorders, clotting disorders, platelet abnormalities, Thrombocytopenia
You have to be able to empathize, process it and then perhaps move on, but you have to feel. If you stop feeling, then you shouldn’t be doing this.”
What is your proudest achievement?
It has been a privilege to care for my patients and invest in them my knowledge, my energy and my compassion. I’m proud of contributing to a new way of understanding the pathophysiology of autoimmune thrombocytopenia in the late 1980s, which led to developing new treatments and later working on clinical trials with those new therapies. My work with patients with blood disorders has led to innovations in transfusion therapy and prevention of bleeding.
Specialties and clinical expertise
The branch of medicine a provider practices and their areas of focus
During my internal medicine residency, a patient was admitted with a severe autoimmune disorder that really caught my attention. The pathophysiology, the questions around therapy, the laboratory work-up — everything about her case was interesting to me. She actually had ITP, and I was fascinated, not realizing at the time that I was going to develop an expertise in it.
My team and I currently have a grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to evaluate whether we can decrease bleeding in patients undergoing transplant or chemotherapy who are thrombocytopenic (a condition that means you have a low blood platelet count). We are testing different ways to transfuse patients to decrease their risk of bleeding.
I care for patients with blood disorders including ITP, thrombocytopenia, anemia and excessive bleeding and clotting. I am involved in research related to these diseases, and I also teach UW medical students, residents and fellows in hematology. Teaching is a big part of my life, and I love it.
What is your approach to patient care?
We all go into medicine because we want to cure diseases and save lives. Sometimes, it’s just as important to know how to help someone walk a path during difficult times. My patients can ask hard questions. I had a patient who had had multiple miscarriages and wanted more than anything to have a second child. She asked me, “How am I ever going to get through this?” and for a question like that, I honestly don’t always have an answer. However, I will always help my patients find a path to move forward — whatever the outcome is going to be.
State University of New York at Buffalo
State University of New York at Stony Brook
New England Deaconess Hospital (Boston), Internal Medicine
University of Washington, Internal Medicine
Hematology, Internal Medicine, 2000, American Board of Internal Medicine