Candidates for the 2019-2020 AVAHO Board of Directors 


Tony Quang, MD, JD

Acting Chief of Radiation Oncology, VA Puget Sound Health Care System

Administrative note: Dr. Quang is the sole candidate for president-elect and has served as an AVAHO board member for 4 years. 

I am a board certified radiation oncologist. I have been practicing medicine for 16 years. I treat cancer patients at the Seattle VA, teach medical students, residents, and radiation technicians. I also conduct research and participate in advocacy efforts on behalf of health care professionals and Veterans health. I believe our work at AVAHO furthers the interests of not only Veterans but also the professionals who take care of them. I feel honor and privileged to be part of this organization.

Why serve on the AVAHO Board?

Being President of AVAHO is the next logical step for me as I have successfully served as an AVAHO Board Member for the last 4 years and I want to continue providing my service to this wonderful organization to further the vision of AVAHO through developing best practices, education, and research. I believe continual facilitation of communication and networking among AVAHO members and VA staff will further the goals of improving health care quality and access for our Veterans.

Please identify 2-3 areas that would enhance furthering the Mission of AVAHO.

As President, I would like to do the following: 1) Further develop the platform for VA interdisciplinary team members to share best practices through webinars and more in person meeting forums. 2) Expand more educational and training resources for the various members of the interdisciplinary team. 3) Support administrative and legal counsel for the AVAHO Foundation, which is being formed shortly. 4) Work with pharmaceutical vendors to continue developing educational material. 5) Identify and reconcile the issues arising from the implementation of the Mission Act and share strategies to ensure our Veterans are well taken care of. 6) Call each and every AVAHO member to discuss ways to further AVAHO's mission.

Member, Board of Directors

Ana Antun, MD, MSc

Assistant Professor Hematology and Medical Oncology, Atlanta VA Medical Center

I am assistant professor of Hematology and medical oncology at Atlanta VA, my clinical and research areas are in hemostasis focusing and thrombotic and bleeding disorders as well as thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura

Why serve on the AVAHO Board?

the AVAHO meets the mission of getting multidisciplinary VA providers in a setting that allows improvement of our own and patient care.

Please identify 2-3 areas that would enhance furthering the Mission of AVAHO.

1) patient education materials 2) advance practitioners educations courses 3) encourage the members to participate in the organizations

Grace Cullen, DNP

Hem/Onc, Pal Care and Hospice NP, Detroit VA Medical Center

I have been a VA employee since 2001, and a member of AVAHO for several years. I have also served in AVAHO's Program Committee for the past 3 years. I have worked in oncology and palliative since at least 2008, and have cared for cancer patients since at least 1996. I am clinical researcher and have published my work. I led the initiative to include pal care resources in the AVAHO website.

Why serve on the AVAHO Board?

I have been actively involved with AVAHO and this role will allow for me to make more contributions toward the goals of the organization.

Please identify 2-3 areas that would enhance furthering the Mission of AVAHO.

1. By spreading the word about AVAHO and its mission to colleagues, to encourage membership and participation. 2. By providing good quality continuing training and education to its membership to improve quality of care and patient outcomes. 3. By helping create opportunities for clinical innovation within the VA.

Dwight Eplin, PharmD

Clinical Pharmacy Specialist, Tennessee Valley Healthcare System

I am a clinical pharmacy specialist in stem cell transplant at the Nashville VA medical center, one of three VA's in the country that offers stem cell transplant. I received my Doctor of Pharmacy from West Virginia University School of Pharmacy in 2011, completed a PGY-1 pharmacy practice residency at the VA medical center in Huntington, WV in 2012. I then completed a PGY-2 oncology pharmacy residency at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center where I stayed on after residency for 2 years, before accepting my current role in stem cell transplant at the Nashville VA in 2015. My current professional/research interests include infectious disease, specifically CMV and fungal complications post-transplant, as well as long-term complications and survivorship post-transplant.

Why serve on the AVAHO Board?

I have had an affinity to working in the VA system and treating veterans since my first student rotation at the VA in my hometown. I find great satisfaction with the care model within the VA, which allows pharmacists to practice at their highest potential, as well as the role I play in veterans lives during and after stem cell transplant. Having worked in hematology/oncology in both the VA system and the private sector/major academic facility, I feel I have a wealth of knowledge and can give valuable contributions in helping to further advance the care of veterans in this field moving forward.

Please identify 2-3 areas that would enhance furthering the Mission of AVAHO

As mentioned previously, I have experience working in multiple different VA institutions as well as private sector/academic facilities, so I think I could be a valuable addition to the board in identifying ways to improve our care model of this population through educational programs, both live and online. In addition, through my job in stem cell transplant and caring for referred patients from all different VA's across the country, I have been able to network with many different care providers across multiple VA institutions and would enjoy the opportunity to help network even more VA hematology/oncology practitioners, both new and old in their career, to help strengthen the coordinated care we provide. Lastly, I have become much more involved in research in the last couple years of my career, and through these various projects feel that I have learned valuable lessons that could help newer practitioners and would enjoy the opportunity to help advance the quality and quantity of research that is happening within the VA hematology/oncology field, which should be utilizing the largely untapped potential of a national network of providers and patients.

Janice Schwartz, MSN, RN, OCN

RN Cancer Care Coordinator, NMVAHCS

Janice is the Cancer Care Coordinator for Surgical Services in the Albuquerque, New Mexico VA. A nurse for 23 years, Janice has experience in various modalities of cancer care and maintains Oncology Nursing Certification. She developed the proactive NMVAHCS cancer survivorship/surveillance system and received a federal grant to automate the process within the NMVAHCS electronic medical record. The process begins care at diagnosis: the time a Veteran diagnosed with cancer is deemed a survivor. This system guides Veterans through the intricacies of care and enables delivery of appropriate and timely care. During the Commission on Cancer (CoC) reaccreditation site visit, this was recognized as a Best Practice and noted to align with the proposed CoC Survivorship Standard. She completed her MSN in Nursing Leadership and Management, writing her Thesis on the underutilization of palliative care in oncology setting and has gained state stakeholder support to elevate palliative care health policy. She successfully lobbied to modify the palliative care and cancer survivorship state goals to begin care at diagnosis and was subsequently elected to the NM Cancer Council Executive Committee. Janice founded the Sunflower Chapter of the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) and a Young Women’s Breast Cancer Support Group in Lawrence, Kansas. She remains an active member of ONS at the local and national level. Under her lead as Albuquerque Chapter ONS President, she increased board positions to enable chapter succession, increased educational scholarships, and transformed educational offerings. She approached a third-party vendor for development of the annual “Symposia in a Box”. This provides 6 FREE oncology continuing educational credits, attracts 125 oncology nurses from the southwestern region, and raises and average of $30,000 annually for the Chapter. She remains an Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN) advocate hosting certification review courses at the local and national level. She initiated AVAHO’s first Oncology Nursing Certification Review Course in 2017 and facilitated the course again in 2018: 50% of attendees have obtained certification. This year she initiated AVAHO’s first Cancer Fundamentals Course for new nurses in oncology, the course enrollment has exceeded capacity. Janice was formally recognized for her innovation in oncology care, receiving the NM State Nursing Excellence Award in Case/Quality Management/Managed Care/Informatics and the VA Secretary’s Award Excellence in Nursing. Janice and her husband, John, a retired Veteran, have two grown children and reside in Albuquerque, NM. They enjoy bike riding on the Bosque and camping in the mountains.

Why serve on the AVAHO Board?
II would like the opportunity to bring my knowledge and oncology compassion to the table and contribute to the advancement of AVAHO’s mission. I remain active within the oncology community with a background of board participation. I would love to lend my skills to further the mission of AVAHO. My out of the box thinking has led to the development of innovative learning opportunities at the local, state, and national level. I seek personal reward mentoring nurses to their highest potential with attainment of advanced certifications and degrees. Implementing such activities in AVAHO would also serve to enhance networking opportunities for nurses to share best practices and improve the quality of cancer care. I find it rewarding developing, collaborating, and participating in projects, which serve to improve overall outcomes for patients living with a cancer diagnosis. I feel my contributions on the AVAHO Board would benefit both AVAHO members and myself: professionally and personally.

Please identify 2-3 areas that would enhance furthering the Mission of AVAHO.
I envision increasing learning opportunities to oncology nurses through innovative media platforms. The Oncology Certification Review Course could be offered to more nurses through such platforms, as the live courses at AVAHO have been limited to 25 nurses. These courses have assisted 50% of attendees to seek certification. Offering these courses to nurses on additional platforms would potentially increase the number of competent nurses providing oncology care to our Veterans. As a member of other professional oncology groups, I also envision expanding the annual conference. The conference offers a wealth of knowledge and networking opportunities for oncology professionals, which could be expanded to the local or regional level. Many national professional groups offer the opportunity for local or regional groups, which meet monthly or quarterly. These groups serve to increase networking throughout the year and engage members to promote the mission.



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