Dorothea Cassidy Pfohl, RN, BS, MSCN

Photo of Dorothea Cassidy Pfohl, RN, BS, MSCN

Clinical Coordinator of the Comprehensive MS Center of the Department of
Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania Health System
Member, MSAA Healthcare Advisory Council

…on the evolution of nursing and treatment tools for MS


“Looking back to the 1980s, the best we could do was to ‘put out fires’ when caring for the person with MS. By this, I mean treating exacerbations with steroids or ACTH and using physical and occupational therapy to minimize disability. In the 1990s, the disease-modifying therapies were introduced. For the first time, we were able to influence the natural course of MS, but we also had to learn how to best use these medications, cope with side effects, and maximize adherence. With greater effectiveness came higher risk, and once again we needed to educate and support our patients, their loved ones, and the professional community.

“I like to visualize a toolbox, now full of a variety of pharmaceutical therapies, devices, and interventions. These allow for comprehensive, multidisciplinary, yet personal approaches, with the intention of promoting wellness while treating the underlying disease.

“On a personal note, I have been privileged to see MS nursing evolve into a respected specialty, with certification, through the efforts of the International Organization of MS Nurses (IOMSN) and visionary MS Nurses. Perhaps the future will provide an even more sophisticated set of tools. I know that the passion and dedication of patients and professionals will continue to help us work toward our common goals.”

Dorothea (Dottie) Cassidy Pfohl has more than 45 years of nursing experience, and has specialized in MS since 1989. Her current role includes research, clinical practice, and community outreach. She is a member of the NMSS healthcare advisory committee and the highly successful program, Women Against MS (WAMS). A member of several speakers’ bureaus, advisory boards, and editorial boards, she is also active in nonprofit organizations, including MSAA, along with other MS and nursing organizations. In 2003, Ms. Pfohl was named to the National MS Society’s Volunteer Hall of Fame. In 2010, she was the recipient of the June Halper Award for Excellence in MS Nursing.