It takes a tender combination of special qualities including compassion, kindness, communication, listening and understanding to practice palliative medicine. Stormont Vail Health’s newest palliative medicine and support care physician, Melanie Skelton, M.D., possess all those qualities, in addition to that of empathy. Having personally experienced the loss of a loved one after a long battle with cancer, Dr. Skelton is particularly passionate about helping patients and families navigate the struggles of terminal illness. She said many of the most meaningful and rewarding experiences of her medical career occurred while interacting with patients in the midst of difficult situations. Dr. Skelton originally pursued a career in medicine because of a fascination with health and healing, but she chose her area of focus because it afforded her the greatest opportunity to positively impact other people’s lives. Dr. Skelton said she is humbled by the trust patients bestow upon their physicians during difficult, life-threatening and or life-limiting illnesses.
Stormont Vail Health is proud to announce that Dr. Skelton has joined our medical team and will practice as a palliative physician. She will see patients within the hospital as well as outpatient patients at Cotton O’Neil Mulvane, 823 S.W. Mulvane, and Cotton O’Neil Cancer Center, 1414 S.W. Eight Ave., both in Topeka.
Dr. Skelton received her medical degree at Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, Georgia, in 2011. She completed an internship in internal medicine at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, in 2014. She completed a fellowship in hospice and palliative medicine at Vanderbilt University in 2015.
“I believe I have always been an empathetic person, and consequently became an empathetic physician,” said Dr. Skelton. “However, having sat at the bedside both as a physician and as a daughter during end-of-life care, I came to realize how hard it is to truly understand what patients and families are going through. Each person’s experience is very individual. I am focused on finding out what is most important to each individual patient and then helping them achieve their personal goals within the framework of their illness.”
Dr. Skelton enjoys running, cooking and reading. She also enjoys spending time with her husband and family, traveling whenever the opportunity presents itself, and hiking with her two Rhodesian ridgeback puppies.