New Faculty

Dr. Karla Washington joins the Department of Medicine

Karla Washington, PhD, LCSW

Dr. Karla T. Washington, PhD, joined the Division of Palliative Medicine in the Department of Medicine as an Associate Professor on January 1, 2021. A native Missourian, Dr. Washington graduated cum laude from Truman State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology in 1997. Shortly thereafter, she earned a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Missouri with a concentration in health social work. After working as a clinical social worker for several years, Dr. Washington returned to the University of Missouri in 2005 to pursue doctoral studies. As a doctoral student, she was awarded the Jane Bierdeman-Fike Doctoral Fellowship and was selected as a John A. Hartford Foundation Doctoral Fellows Pre-Dissertation Awardee and, later, as a John A. Hartford Foundation Doctoral Fellow. She completed her dissertation on the psychosocial influences on total pain management by informal hospice caregivers in 2009, receiving her PhD in May of that year.

After completing her doctoral studies, Dr. Washington headed to Kentucky, where she served as an Assistant Professor on the faculty of the Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville from 2009 to 2013. She taught extensively in the Kent School’s undergraduate program in addition to teaching graduate courses on social gerontology and qualitative research methods. In 2011, Dr. Washington was selected as a John A. Hartford Foundation Faculty Scholar and launched a Hartford Foundation-supported study examining relationships among patient symptom burden, coping strategies, and caregiver psychological distress at end of life.

In 2013, Dr. Washington returned to the University of Missouri as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, where she completed her first National Cancer Institute-funded study of a supportive intervention for hospice family caregivers from 2015-2017. In 2016, Dr. Washington received the David B. Oliver Department of Family and Community Medicine Faculty Award in recognition of her contributions to geriatrics and palliative medicine. In both 2016 and 2017, she was chosen as one of the University of Missouri Chancellor’s Top Faculty Achievers. Also in 2017, she was awarded the Dorsett L. Spurgeon MD Distinguished Medical Research Award and the Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network Award for Excellence in Psychosocial Research. Dr. Washington was awarded tenure and promoted to the rank of Associate Professor at the University of Missouri in 2019.

Dr. Washington’s research interests include family caregiving in the context of serious illness, inter- and trans-disciplinary teamwork, psychosocial wellness, and digital health. She is a member of the Editorial Board of the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and the Journal of Psychosocial Oncology. Dr. Washington’s hobbies include reading, hiking, gardening, yoga, indoor cycling, and spending time with family and friends.