Kara Warner, JD, NP, is a nurse practitioner in the Brain Tumor Center as well as the Mass General NPH Clinic. Before entering the health care field, Kara was an editor and an attorney.

 

What is special about Mass General?

This is the best professional environment I have ever worked in, and I have worked in many. I think the difference is that, as Mass General employees, we sincerely love what we do. There is a basic understanding that we are all united in a common goal—providing the best possible care for our patients. As a result, people are motivated, engaged and enjoy being here every day.

What do you like most about your job?

I have been in the neurosciences for my entire nursing career so far. What could possibly be more fascinating than the brain? I enjoy the complexity of the subject matter. Because of that, opportunities for continued learning are endless. Of course, being a part of the neurosurgery team in the Brain Tumor Center is just incredible. I have the pleasure of working directly with some of the world’s leading experts in the field of brain tumor treatment. Our surgeons and neuro-oncologists make discoveries through their research that literally change the future of cancer management.

Getting to see the incredible work they do for our patients, and to participate in that process, is truly a privilege. I also really enjoy my role in the Mass General NPH Clinic. Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH) is a rare condition that causes cognitive and mobility impairments. It can be effectively (and often rapidly) reversed with surgical placement of a brain shunt (a device that relieves pressure on the brain). We see some incredible and even startling transformations in these patients. Some have gone from bedbound and nonverbal to functionally independent following shunt placement. It is certainly one of the most gratifying aspects of our neurosurgical practice.

Describe your journey into health care.

My journey into health care was definitely non-traditional. I was a literature major in college and initially worked in editing for a medical publishing company. After a couple of years, I decided to go to law school. I moved to California, got my JD from UC Berkeley, passed the bar and started working at a big law firm in San Francisco. Most of my time was spent representing corporations. Although the work was challenging, I felt unfulfilled.

After a few years, I had the opportunity to represent a Mongolian family in a pro bono case. They were seeking political asylum in the U.S. due to persecution they had been suffering at the hands of their government. We won the case, and for the first time I felt as though I had truly made a difference in someone’s life through my work. I had never had this feeling before as a lawyer, and I realized I wanted to be able to help others like that every day. That is when I decided I needed to change careers.

Why is Women’s History Month important to you?

This particular year in history has been quite notable for women—for good reasons and bad. Some of the stories that have come out over past year have highlighted the ways in which women continue to struggle, suffer and be silenced in the workplace and beyond. In response to these revelations, though, we have seen a huge wave of female empowerment. There have been countless instances of women supporting one another, marching, speaking out, persisting, resisting and showing how strong we are when we come together.

This year, more than any other I can recall in my lifetime, it feels especially important to recognize Women’s History Month and to celebrate the contributions and accomplishments of women, whether in medicine or nursing, politics, advocacy, the arts, community leadership or other disciplines. We need to be sure that the young women and girls growing up in this era know that there are no limits to what they can achieve. Their views and ideas are valuable and important. They are every bit as capable and worthy of success as their male peers.

 Listen to interviews with our women physicians and staff members