Dr. Crystal Shen grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and attended the University of Michigan, followed by Mayo Medical School and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health where she earned an MPH. She completed her pediatrics residency at UW/Seattle Children’s Hospital in 2017.
Dr. Shen currently works as a pediatrician and primary care provider at King County Public Health’s Eastgate Clinic as well as at Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Urgent Care, where she serves children from many immigrant and lower income families. “I enjoy working with children from diverse backgrounds despite sometimes challenging social circumstances, and aim to help their families navigate the health system and linking them into resources,” says Dr. Shen. “I also appreciate opportunities I have for involvement with trauma-informed care work and working with the Pediatric Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative at King County Public Health.”
Now a seasoned advocate, Dr. Shen first testified on behalf of the WCAAP for Tobacco 21 legislation in Olympia in 2016, during her residency. Her interest in tobacco youth prevention work as well as community reported needs led to work on vaping prevention education resource development with the Toppenish school district in eastern Washington, as part of the Seattle Children’s REACH (Resident Education and Advocacy for Child Health) program. Dr. Shen again answered WCAAP’s call to testify on Tobacco 21 legislation in 2018.
“My particular interests in WCAAP revolve around advocacy, with my experiences testifying in Olympia truly highlighting how to put advocacy into action,” says Dr. Shen. In addition to her advocacy on tobacco-related legislation, in the 2018 legislative session she had the opportunity to testify for legislation to expand access to pediatric mental health resources via PAL expansion. “The benefits of testifying were multifold,” she says. “Conveying to legislators the importance and the immense need for pediatric mental health resources was essential. However, it was also edifying to have a venue to share the struggles that my patients’ families encountered in accessing care; due to lack of private insurance, my patients have increased difficulty in accessing already scarce mental health care services.” Dr. Shen adds that the experience of being able to provide a voice on behalf of children who often do not get to have a voice in matters that impact their health was wonderful. Even better was learning that the specific bill had passed in both the House and the Senate unanimously! “I felt a sense of joy over learning that the bill had so much support and that resources will be expanded, and I also felt motivated that I could contribute in some way to making progress on this important issue.”
When she’s not taking care of kids in clinic or testifying in Olympia, you’ll find Dr. Shen hiking, clamming/oystering, cooking, scuba diving, and traveling. “I’ve traveled to six continents and have previously lived/worked in East Africa and East Asia. Since moving to Seattle for residency, I’ve enjoyed planning adventures around the PNW (especially dog-friendly ones) and coordinating foodie potlucks/excursions.”