An attending once told Geriatric Medicine fellow Samantha Kay, MD, that the highest compliment you can receive is a hug from a patient’s family member. COVID has made actual hugs trickier, Kay said, but these days she relishes the “metaphorical hugs”– sincere thank-yous, hand squeezes, and sometimes even tears of joy.
"I’ve had a few of these moments during my fellowship, and they always remind me how lucky I am to care for older adults every day,” Kay said.
Kay chose to pursue this fellowship after completing two blocks of geriatrics training during her residency here at IU. She was inspired by the “extremely supportive and knowledgeable” research staff, as well as the clinical staff, whom she described as “phenomenal teachers, wonderful models of bedside manner, and master communicators” with patients and their families.
“I honestly could not ask for better mentorship in a fellowship program,” she said.
Kay’s mentors and colleagues are equally impressed by her.
Felipe Perez, MD, director of the Geriatric Medicine and Geriatric/Palliative Medicine fellowships, said she displays all the “qualities of a great physician: trustworthiness, efficiency, independent learning, strong work ethic, high attention to detail and affability.”
David Bose, MD, who is Service Line Chief for Geriatrics, said she caught his attention when she interviewed for her fellowship position, and it has been “an honor” to work with her since.
“In addition to being smart and knowledgeable, she is very kind, well-mannered, hardworking and diligent, exhibiting utmost professionalism in her day-to-day encounters with patients and families,” said Bose.
Further, Kathleen Unroe, MD, one of Kay’s research mentors, appreciates the consistently positive attitude that she brings to work each day. “[Dr. Kay] demonstrates a true commitment to the field of geriatrics,” Unroe said.
For Kay, that commitment flows from her love for the field.
“My favorite part is providing high-quality, person-centered care focused on preserving quality of life,” she said.
She and her colleagues use a tool called the Geriatric 4M Screening Tool, which asks: what matters most? This question, Kay said, is the focus of geriatric clinic visits and inpatient consults.
“I think geriatrics is such a unique specialty in which taking away medications is key, and adding non-pharmacologic treatment plans is often the go-to,” she said. “And, I love that each plan is uniquely individualized for one specific person based on their needs and goals.”
When she isn’t caring for her patients at work, Kay enjoys caring for her pets and plants at home.
“I have three gorgeous fur babies named Charlie, Chloe, and Catt Damon (yes, like Matt Damon),” she says. “I have also been collecting plants during all of residency, and have quite a collection to fill all the rooms of my apartment.”
Kay will join the faculty at IU upon completion of her fellowship in July 2022.
“She will be an asset to our institution and our community as she endeavors to take care of the most vulnerable and frail elderly,” Bose said.
Selected publications/projects by Dr. Kay:
Pending publication: Improving Communication in Nursing Homes Using Plan-Do-Study-Act Cycles of an SBAR Training Program in Journal of Applied Gerontology
Kay S, Stump T, Unroe K, Carnahan J. Improving Communication in Nursing Homes Using Plan-Do-Study-Act Cycles of an SBAR Training Program. American Geriatrics Society Annual Scientific Meeting; May 2021: Virtual.