Nephrologist and veteran Susan Crowley brings a unique perspective to her patients

Susan Crowley, MD, MBA, is a nephrologist and renal leader at the West Haven campus of the Veterans Affairs Connecticut Healthcare System (VACHS).

She’s also a veteran, and that has an impact on her job.

“I think once a veteran knows you’re another veteran, there’s an instant connection. And so there is an immediate trust factor that goes with it. Being a veteran is definitely an advantage in building trust between you and the patient, and patients immediately understand what I did and what the requirements were to be in the military, and I just think that creates a level of understanding that is implied, ”said Crowley, professor of medicine (nephrology).

Military service is in Crowley’s blood. Her father and three uncles were Navy veterans. She remembers the beautiful stories her father told about his beginnings as an enlisted sailor, which culminated in his unimaginable appointment to the United States Naval Academy and the commission of an officer. At 91, he still reminds her to count life’s unexpected blessings and “pay it forward” whenever possible.

Like his father, Crowley decided to join the military. And like her mother, the hometown community nurse, Crowley pursued a career in the health professions. She was fortunate enough to win a US Navy Health Scholarship in 1980 to help fund her medical education. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to afford to go to medical school because it was so expensive and they didn’t offer enough student loans,” she said.

Crowley attended the Albany Medical College of Union University, New York for his medical degree, then completed his internship at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, followed by his residency at the State University of New York in Stony Brook Health Sciences Center in 1987 She completed a nephrology fellowship at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York in 1990, and returned to active service stationed in Bethesda, Maryland.

In 1994, Crowley entered the Yale School of Medicine as the medical director of dialysis at VACHS. She assumed the role of Head of the Renal Section in 2004, following in the footsteps of Gary V. Desir, MD, Chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine.

In her role, she enjoys caring for other veterans with kidney disease and disorders.

“Veterans tend to be a very selfless bunch. I often have patients that I approach for research projects, and the first thing they ask is, “Well, is this going to help? Even if that doesn’t help me, will it help anyone else? ‘ It is always the objective of researchers, to advance personal care. I think we always have to be explicit about why we are doing research, because it is not clear whether it will directly benefit the person. And the veterans on the whole have been extremely cooperative and enthusiastic about the research, ”Crowley said.

VACHS has clinical research programs related to kidney disease. Some of these studies involved groundbreaking research that had an impact on how to treat people with kidney disease.

During his career at the VA, Crowley offered a formal kidney program at the VA in Washington to help coordinate and manage the care of veterans undergoing dialysis treatment across the country. She leads the VHA’s National Kidney Program and has been its Executive Director since its inception in 2010.

As Veterans Day approaches, Crowley says she looks back on her time of service and how lucky she was to have served in the military and now work with other veterans.

“People serve in the military, not necessarily for their own benefit, but for the benefit of people in the future, so that future generations of Americans can continue to enjoy the freedoms we have today.”

About Alma Ackerman

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