- Bachelor of Science, Dietetics and Nutrition, Fitness & Health - Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
- Master of Science, Physician Assistant Studies - A. T. Still University, Kirksville, MO
- Master of Science, Exercise Science/Wellness Management - Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
- Certified Physician Assistant – National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants
- Certified Health & Fitness Instructor – American College of Sports Medicine
Karen Gafford, Physician Assistant in Internal Medicine at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), Phoenix, has always been drawn to health and wellness. Early in her education, she became interested in the role of diet and nutrition in preventing and healing illness. As an undergraduate at Purdue University, she completed a Bachelor of Science through a double major in Dietetics and Nutrition, Fitness & Health.
Gafford continued her studies at Colorado University, where she earned a Master of Science in Exercise Science & Wellness Management and certification as a registered dietitian. She completed an internship in Dietetics at the University of Northern Colorado, integrating diet and supplements into the training program for the Chicago Bears; providing nutrition counseling and other clinical services to high-risk patients; and creating nutrition plans for patients in acute rehabilitation and transitional care units.
Following this training, Gafford worked for several years as a Clinical Dietitian with a large medical center in Wyoming. She assessed nutritional status, designed nutrition care plans, worked with patients on maintaining therapeutic diets, and served as the Adjunct Clinical Dietitian of the Family Practice Resident Program at the University of Wyoming.
Later, she worked as Consultant Dietitian for a private practice and as a Relief Clinical Dietitian for a large health care facility, both in Colorado.
In 2010, Gafford turned her focus to physician assistant work, wishing to broaden the expertise she could bring to patients. She completed a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies at A. T. Still University in Missouri in 2012 and is a Certified Physician Assistant through the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. Her training included clinical rotations in Emergency Medicine, Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, Cardiology, Surgery, Pediatrics and Obstetrics/Gynecology.
Gafford spent three years as Physician Assistant in Internal Medicine at the University of Colorado. She provided care for high-risk patients, performed basic medical procedures and educated patients about their diagnosis, test results, medications and diet.
In February 2016, Gafford joined CTCA® as Physician Assistant in Internal Medicine focused on outpatient services. “The focus on empowering patients and on integrative support are outstanding features of CTCA,” says Gafford. “This approach helps us provide optimal care for our patients.”
When she is not at CTCA, Gafford is usually with her husband, Brian, and their son, Cooper. They enjoy time spent outdoors going on hikes, fishing and walking.
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