Before coming to UAB a little more than two years ago, Ashton Kornbrust was a traveling nurse, beginning a new job in a new office in a new state every three to six months. Now, as a hematology/oncology nurse at UAB’s Kirklin Clinic, her work life is much steadier — but the skills she learned earlier in her career are still serving her well, she says.
“I feel like it prepped me to be adaptable, learning to work with all different types of people and traveling and starting in new clinics in different parts of the country,” Kornbrust said. “You learn that the more places you work and the nicer you are to people, they more they’re going to help you.”
Kornbrust’s colleagues all agree — she is quick to help and always professional, they say. Adelyn Gillon, patient services coordinator in the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, says Kornbrust always makes herself available to answer questions, and that she’s become a go-to for many staff. That reputation has earned her the honor of UAB’s Employee of the Month for April.
“She sees each patient as an individual and builds a relationship of trust with them, even while under the most stressful of circumstances.”
“Ashton is highly approachable, not just to staff, but also to her patients,” Gillon said. “She puts them at ease and can explain complex medical issues to any patient from any walk of life in a way that is digestible, but also deferential. She sees each patient as an individual and builds a relationship of trust with them, even while under the most stressful of circumstances.”
Kirklin Clinic’s hematology/oncology clinic, one of the busiest at UAB, serves an average 130 to 170 patients each day, Gillon said. Kornbrust works closely with physician Amitkumar Mehta, M.D., who personally sees about 40 patients per day. Because UAB has more experts and more clinical trials available, it is a hub for cancer research in the South, and part of Kornbrust’s job is coordinating with physicians in other counties, cities and states across the Southeast on appointment scheduling.
“When I first started at UAB, I wasn’t sure how to approach other offices and physicians and learning that is probably the best part of my job,” she said. “Dr. Mehta has become so renowned in the lymphoma world, we’re now getting patients from all over the country, and as we have grown as a clinic, I’ve learned how to coordinate people and their needs outside this office.”
Mehta says that, in Kornbrust’s two-plus years with the clinic, she has proven to be a great asset, always coordinating patient care smoothly and satisfactorily, and that his patients continuously praise her.
“She is the best,” said Mehta, assistant professor in the School of Medicine Division of Hematology and Oncology. “There are no words to describe her commitment. She has super communication skills. She is compassionate and considerate and, most important, helpful to me and my patients.”
“In all her work, she remains positive and upbeat. She has a great attitude and treats all of her fellow co-workers with equal respect.”
Patient Encounter Specialist Lesley Grammer says that despite all of Kornbrust’s responsibilities, she “never has an off day, it seems.” She remembers that during this past holiday season, Kornbrust sent holiday cards to each of her patients on behalf of the lymphoma team in the hematology/oncology clinic.
“In all her work, she remains positive and upbeat,” Grammer continued. “She has a great attitude and treats her fellow co-workers with equal respect. She always greets her patients with a smile and her warm personality.”
Kornbrust says the support of her co-workers is an important part of her sunny outlook. One of her favorite memories is the clinic’s efforts to raise more than $7,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the world’s largest voluntary health organization dedicated to fighting blood cancer. She and colleagues organized fundraising efforts such as a painting event at Hammer and Stain, a DIY workshop studio in Birmingham.
“It was a great turnout by our clinic nurses, and we had a great day just hanging out,” Kornbrust said. “It was a great time decompressing from the stress of work while also making cute crafts.”
Each month, UAB recognizes an outstanding employee for their dedication, hard work and contributions to the university’s success. If you know of a great employee, you can learn how to nominate them for this recognition at uab.edu/humanresources.
Kornbrust is a great representative of UAB Medicine’s core values: Always care, own it, work together and do right,” says Leslie Ledbetter, director of Oncology Services in The Kirklin Clinic. She adjusts her work time to attend meetings, stays late to ensure patients are admitted, supports patients emotionally and is always ready to help out her team, often being asked to act as charge nurse.
“Ashton truly displays that she cares for her patients,” Ledbetter said. “She laughs with them and cries with them. She appears to maintain her emotional boundaries, but at the same time, allows herself to grieve with the patients and caregivers.”
“Ashton is a great nurse that cares deeply for her patients,” echoed Bethany Taylor, lymphoma/multiple myeloma-oncology clinical care coordinator. “She is always willing to help patients, families and co-workers with a smile on her face.”