“Veterans are a unique population who, by very definition, have put their own needs below the needs of the greater community when they volunteered to serve their country,” Dr. Howard explains while discussing her motivation behind her advocacy work. “I am reminded of this every day in my clinic as the veterans I work with continue to serve in their role as the most incredible teachers for my residents and students. I was very fortunate to spend part of my training in the VA, and it is now my privilege to serve this special group.”
Dr. Howard has been a practicing physiatrist for more than 13 years and a member of AANEM for 12. During that time, she has made significant contributions to improving the lives of veterans and those who suffer from neuromuscular disorders.
Dr. Howard has volunteered her time with countless patient service organizations, traveled to Capitol Hill to share her insights as a clinician about the unmet needs of patients with neuromuscular diseases, and has been involved at a national level in building records for the relatively new field of electronic telehealth medicine. She has helped to ensure that veterans in particular are able to reap the benefits that quality telehealth can provide.
“In 2015, after years of planning, paperwork, and training, I was finally able to visit with a patient who lived about 5 hours away using telehealth,” Dr. Howard recalls. “The patient’s wife was so grateful to be able to access a physician who was knowledgeable and had experience with her husband’s neuromuscular disease. I knew at that moment it was all worth it and there was no going back to the way things used to be—when patients with advanced stages of disease and disability had to cross a mountain pass anytime they needed to see a physician.”
Dr. Howard is currently the outpatient medical director at the VA Puget Sound and a clinical associate professor of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine. She also serves as the co-director of the ALS Center of Excellence. She has received numerous honors in the past, including the 2018 Paralyzed Veterans of America Clinical Excellence Award for her work with the ALS program. In June 2021, Dr. Howard was also asked to appear at the start of a Seattle Mariners game for the first official Lou Gehrig Day to honor her research.
Dr. Howard is happy to say she has truly found her passion in her practice. She explains that she loves working with patients and greatly enjoys teaching and seeing her former residents/fellows develop their own careers.
Dr. Howard will be recognized on Friday, October 15, 2021, at the AANEM Annual Meeting in Aurora, Colorado, along with the other winners of this year’s AANEM Achievement Awards.
About AANEM The American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine (AANEM) is a nonprofit membership association dedicated to the advancement of neuromuscular (NM), musculoskeletal (MSK), and electrodiagnostic (EDX) medicine. For more information about AANEM, visit www.aanem.org or find us on Facebook and Twitter.