Meet a team member

Joan Laufer, WHCNP-BC, C-MC, Nurse Practitioner

As a breast care nurse practitioner, I see women from all over the state with many kinds of breast concerns: breast pain, a lump, skin changes, you name it. Many patients are referred by their primary-care providers, OB/GYN or midwives but some come in on their own.

Many women come in with symptoms they don’t understand. They just want to know what’s going on with their breasts. A lot of my time is spent educating patients. I’ll explain terminology or go over imaging reports with them and give them all the time they need to understand what’s happening with their bodies.

Breasts are active organs. They can change from month-to-month and everyone's breasts are different. By knowing how your breasts feel normally, you can better understand when things are unusual. Most symptoms are either going to be totally normal, or a variation from normal—but rarely will they result in disease.

It’s important to me that patients understand what’s happening. For example, when we do an ultrasound, I always explain to patients that the tech does the ultrasound, and then the radiologist will come in afterward to check the images and do an additional exam. That’s normal; seeing the doctor right away doesn’t mean something is wrong.

When women come to see me, they are often tense. I try to immediately put them at ease by joking around or asking them about themselves. I tell them, “It’s going to be all right, we’ll deal with whatever it is.” I’m honest because as soon as I feel that there’s nothing serious, I tell them, and if it’s suspicious, I tell them, and we’ll deal with next steps together.