Dr. Cassie Whittier, a family medicine physician, brings her skills in well- woman care, adolescent care and sports medicine to Tanner Clinic East Layton.
Dr. Whittier is a native of Ogden, where she stayed to complete her B.S. in clinical laboratory sciences at Weber State University.
She earned her M.D. from the University of Utah School of Medicine, where she received the Compassion in Medicine Award. She conducted her residency with the McKay-Dee Family Medicine Residency program. While there, she was named chief resident.
Between her undergraduate work and medical school, Dr. Whittier worked as a medical technologist at Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver, focusing on hematology, coagulation, chemistry and microbiology.
Dr. Whittier was an event organizer for a Girls Exploring Medicine (GEM) seminar at WSU; GEM highlights the important role of women physicians. Other volunteerism has included stints as medical director at XTERRA Triathlon and the Hurt in the Dirt Offroad Duathlon in Ogden. She recently returned from Haiti where she provided primary care as part of the Haiti Health Initiative.
Dr. Whittier lives with her husband in Ogden, where she enjoys hikes and walks with her dogs. She recently took up cooking as a hobby. She can also be found gardening and golfing.
No group is better at it than adolescent and teenaged girls.
And when questions arise, especially about a young woman’s health, the answers may be just more chitchat.
Dr. Cassie Whittier sees all ages and types of patients, but the role that she especially relishes is that of a neutral sounding board for teenaged girls.
“I’d rather that I be the source of education rather than their friends or somebody who doesn’t know what they’re talking about,” said Dr. Whittier, a family medicine physician who recently joined Tanner Clinic Layton.
Office visits by teenaged patients, she adds, “help to bridge that gap for a teenager who’s moving into adulthood and needs to get used to talking to a physician on her own.”
Communication with parents encouraged
The questions about health issues posed by her young patients range from acne to STDs, said Dr. Whittier. Often, helpful conversations arise when parents bring their teenagers in for sports physicals, well-child visits or issues such as irregular periods, pimple flareups or anxiety.
“Sometimes,” she says, “it’s nice to have that medical perspective and to answer any questions.”
The one-on-one conversations may include subjects the girls feel reluctant to address with their parents. However, adds Dr. Whittier, “if something comes up in that conversation, I’ll talk to that teenager about talking to her parents. But sometimes we need that third party to breach some of those subjects.”
Future plans easily thwarted
Dr. Whittier acknowledges the prevalence and lure of drugs and alcohol, and she discusses with young patients the speed with which these activities can derail future plans. In conversations about their friend groups, Dr. Whittier will often ask girls whether they’ve ever been around someone who is using drugs or attended a party where there’s been drinking. “And the majority of times,” she said, “they’ve at least seen or been around somebody who’s been involved in that type of stuff.”
The girls Dr. Whittier has seen hit all points on the spectrum, proper or partier, and she judges the receptiveness of each patient to more sensitive subjects. But stereotypes aside, she adds, “This is a conversation about their health.”
Often, her young patients “don’t realize what’s in store — the life that’s waiting for them” she said, “and I don’t think they realize how easily they can become involved in activities that will hamper the future they want for themselves.”
Dr. Cassie Whittier, a family practice physician at Tanner Clinic Layton, reports that most parents she’s seen are receptive to having their adolescents and teens receive the cervical cancer vaccination. Gardasil and Cervarix vaccines prevent the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer.
“I try to explain it this way: If you knew there was a vaccination to prevent lung cancer or thyroid cancer or any type of cancer, wouldn’t you get that if you could?” she said.
The vaccine is recommended for girls ages 11 or 12 through 26 and, for guys, ages 11 or 12 through 21. It can be administered to children as young as 9. Because the virus is sexually transmitted, the goal is to have young people vaccinated well before that that stage of life begins, she said.
“It’s not about promiscuity,” said the physician. “Something could come up later in their lives, and the best way to prevent it is to get the vaccination before they ever become sexually active, even it that’s 10 years later.”
Although there are many HPV strains, the vaccination targets four strains that are most responsible for cervical cancer as well as genital warts, she said.
— Tanner Clinic staff
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