‘Biopsy Queen’ reaches milestone number of proceduresFeb. 9, 2023, 9:41 AM
by Tom Wilemon
Krista Kuhnert-Gainer, ACNP, once underwent a bone marrow biopsy so she could answer yes whenever a patient asked if she ever had one.
With that kind of dedication, it’s no small wonder that the nurse practitioner at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center has performed more than 20,000 bone marrow biopsies since 1996. Her colleagues, many of whom she’s trained, threw a celebration in her honor and proclaimed her the “Biopsy Queen.”
Kuhnert-Gainer is an expert at making patients feel comfortable when they undergo the procedure.
“We have, over time, developed a great system,” she said. “We have a wonderful team that plays music. We also perform back massages and hopefully make the patients comfortable. We listen and make the patient feel that everything is all about them. I try to distract them for a few minutes by talking with them about the things that are important to them.”
A few patients had pointedly asked if she ever had a bone marrow biopsy herself, so Kuhnert-Gainer volunteered when the opportunity arose during a training program so she could answer affirmatively.
Over the course of her professional career, she’s taught dozens of other nurses as well as physicians how to do bone marrow biopsies.
“The fellows used to come down to the stem cell clinic and hang out, and I would show them how to do the biopsies,” she said. “Several of the doctors that I have worked with over the years, I trained as fellows.”
She was hired by the late Steve Wolff, MD, the founder and first director of the Vanderbilt transplant program, and John Greer, MD, who recently retired. They were wonderful mentors and friends, she said.
“Both of them were fantastic physicians with long careers at Vanderbilt,” she said. “I loved working with them, and they taught me so much. John Greer even walked me down the aisle in 2000 when I got married.”
She’s kept in touch with many of the patients who received bone marrow transplants, and she continues to make new friends with the cancer patients she sees daily.