In 2012, I had just ridden my bicycle across the country and graduated with my first nursing degree. I was in top physical shape. I experienced blurry vision that prompted my doctor to order an MRI. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. Two months after my MS diagnosis, my dear mother, who was a Pediatric Intensive Care Nurse, was diagnosed with brain cancer. Karen Vercoe’s death came in four months and left me devastated. I had a new passion, born from desperation: neurology. I became nationally certified in multiple sclerosis and set out to complete my Doctorate of Nursing Practice. I was accepted at Johns Hopkins, and I worked as a Neuroscience nurse in the hospital. At Johns Hopkins I excelled in my studies. In the hospital, I took care of patients just like myself and my mother. My passion was turned into one of the greatest gifts of my life: compassion. Finding compassionate grounds in the context of neurology is what makes me passionate. It helps that I have been a patient, a family member, and a provider. I moved back to Flagstaff to provide neurology services to this population.

A Note to my Patients

The most important thing I learned in my education is that everyone is human. I met some brilliant people at Johns Hopkins, but the ones that were most effective at being a provider presented themselves as a trusted friend who genuinely cared about those around them. It is the acknowledgment of our humanity that ensures we can right wrongs and strive towards health in the provider-patient dynamic. Seeing the whole patient and what is important to them allows us to create a successful health team. My patients know that I show up for them 100% but that I am human; thus, I occasionally have to say, “I don’t know, but I will find out.” My goal is to teach and learn. Patients are experts on themselves, and my goal is for them also to be neurology specialists, just like me.

My Goals

Running a standalone clinic in the health care climate of today is difficult but worth it.

Karen Neurology aims to keep business overhead low, to ensure that we are not married to overhead expenses that keep us focused on the number of patients we see. Dr. Chaconas wants to spend time with her patients and hear their concerns. Please know that our clinic is small and that’s how we like it!