Rachel Kinney, DO, hematologist oncologist with LVPG Hematology Oncology and Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute, knew from an early age that she had a passion for medicine. Throughout high school and college, she worked as a pharmacy technician.
“I loved interacting with patients while also learning about medications and the diseases they treat,” she says.
A turning point came in her career, and she was inspired to become a physician after her grandfather became ill.
“I saw firsthand how difficult it was to have a loved one going through medical treatments. The health care system seemed so complicated, and I often felt helpless with how to best help him,” she says. “This fueled my interest in a career in medicine, with the hope that when another loved one became ill, I would be better able to guide them through their care.”
Influences that guided her career in hematology oncology
While attending Penn State University, Kinney used her interest in oncology to get involved in the Penn State Dance Marathon, known as THON, a student-run philanthropy committed to enhancing the lives of children and families impacted by childhood cancer.
“Each year THON raises millions of dollars for pediatric cancer with a mission to provide emotional and financial support to patients and their families, while also raising awareness and ensuring funding for critical research,” says Kinney. “During my years of involvement, I became close to many families undergoing cancer treatment, and I got to see firsthand both their positive outcomes and difficult challenges.”
After her grandfather’s death, she graduated from medical school with a special interest in geriatric oncology, largely because of him. And today, she also specializes in women’s health, particularly breast and ovarian cancer, as well as benign hematology.
Joining the LVPG Hematology Oncology team at LVHN
Kinney joined Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) right after graduating from medical school, starting out as a resident in internal medicine, and went on to become the chief medical resident. She subsequently completed her fellowship in hematology and oncology and has been with the network for the past seven years.
“I was excited to be recruited as an attending physician at a place that values its employees and emphasizes excellent, evidence-based compassionate care,” says Kinney.
Guiding people through difficult time
As for her care philosophy, Kinney feels it’s important to involve family and loved ones in her patients’ care, as they can provide valuable additional support.
“We’ve all been a patient at some point in our lives, and the experience can be difficult and downright scary,” says Kinney. “My goal as a physician is to provide you with the best possible experience during what may be one of the toughest times in your life. I vow to always provide a clear explanation of your diagnosis as well as all available treatment options. I value honesty and open communication, and believe both are integral parts of a strong physician-patient relationship.”
And the best part of her job? Helping patients in their most vulnerable moments.
“As a hematologist oncologist, the best part of my job is guiding patients through what is likely one of the most difficult times in their lives,” says Kinney.
Get to know more about Dr. Kinney:
1. Outside of work, what do you enjoy doing?
When I’m not working, I enjoy spending time with my husband and our children. We love exploring new sites within the Lehigh Valley and traveling around the world. I also enjoy riding my bike or running through the beautiful local trails.
2. Where is the most interesting place you have traveled to?
Cambodia. I traveled abroad during medical school and had the most incredible experience, immersing myself in a culture so different from my own. I dream of returning to Southeast Asia in the future.
3. Aside from necessities, what is one thing could you not go a day without?