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Joy Burns, PA, MMSc

When Joy Burns isn’t busy working as a PA in the Benign Hematology Program at Smilow Cancer Hospital, she has many hobbies and pursuits in the community that keep her occupied. Recently, she was asked to join the Amistad Committee, a group founded in 1988 to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Amistad Revolt. She is also conducting important research for The Witness Project, which installs markers for enslaved individuals at a site of significance, such as where they lived, worked, or prayed. Joy is also a co-leader of Elm Community Insight, an engaged mindfulness community and has been meditating since 1996. In addition, she recently joined the White Coats 4 Black Lives chapter at Yale.
In her role as a Physician's Assistant, Joy works collaboratively with members of the Hematology Program at Smilow, including Drs. Alfred Lee, Robert Bona, Natalia Neparidze, Noffar Bar, and Martin Katz, as well as the nursing staff, to care for patients with benign hematologic disorders. Joy explained that this field is often misunderstood, and considered to be “non-deadly” but many of the diseases she treats can cause serious morbidity, including cancer, and even death. Her patients span the age range of 18-105 and include an array of disorders from anemia to hereditary conditions. She closely follows her patients, especially those with a condition called paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria who become pregnant, as it poses increased maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality.
“To be able to follow these patients and build a relationship with them, and then see them deliver healthy babies is why I do what I do,” said Joy. “These women require highly specialized care and I feel so lucky to be a part of the team that provides that.”
Joy was influenced early on in her career by the AIDS epidemic, and was working with patients at the Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center in New Haven in 1995 when an antiretroviral therapy (ART) was introduced. Joy commented, “I see people out and about today that I was able to treat with this therapy back in the 90s and they are living full lives; it is truly amazing. My interest in healthcare drove me to attend PA school and I could not be happier with that decision.”