Chapter 09: Choosing to Focus on Administration

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Chapter 09: Choosing to Focus on Administration

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In this chapter, Dr. Hicks reflects on what attracted him to administration and institution building. He explains how he relied on his supportive family. He talks about how the commitment of faculty and leaders at MD Anderson to patients helped him overcome any periods of frustration.||He notes that the patients at MD Anderson are inspiring and shares stories of meaningful patient interactions.

Identifier

HicksM_02_20180501_C09

Publication Date

5-1-2018

City

Houston, Texas

Topics Covered

The Interview Subject's Story - Overview; Leadership; On Leadership; Personal Background; MD Anderson Culture; Working Environment; Institutional Mission and Values; Human Stories; Offering Care, Compassion, Help; Patients; Patients, Treatment, Survivors; Cancer and Disease; This is MD Anderson

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Disciplines

History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Oncology | Oral History

Transcript

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Now let me ask you, although I didn’t ask you before, there are a lot of people who would listen to this story and say oh my God, kill me now, but you decided that you wanted to go into administration and deal with this. So what was that about?

Marshall Hicks, MD:

I think it’s one of those situations … I always tell people it’s delayed gratification. If you go into administration you’re really trying to improve the care for patients over time and you’re trying to improve the quality of the experience for the employees over time. It’s not something—there’s a procedure. A patient comes in, you help them right away, you get something done, that’s the immediate gratification you get as a physician, helping somebody as a physician. Administrator, you have to look down the road. It’s a longer view, and I guess I started to see enough of those successes after I got support and we were able to build and add and see the team coming together and the team committed to really doing this. That became my gratification and reward, if you will, of staying with it. I’m not saying there weren’t some tough times and challenging times where you have those doubts. I also had a very supportive wife through this and she’s always been there and just knowing, I think as well, the commitment to the mission, having had the experience with our son, and our daughter’s health issues too, she was very supportive. We had come here not really knowing a lot of people and this was during that time when I was spending a lot of time here, so that was really helpful, to have her support.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

I don’t remember if I asked you your wife’s name.

Marshall Hicks, MD:

Kelly.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Kelly, oh yes, okay. And your daughter’s name?

Marshall Hicks, MD:

Regan, R-E-G-A-N, and my son is Graham, G-R-A-H-A-M.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Okay.

Marshall Hicks, MD:

But yeah, it’s a bit of a blur so I really don’t know if there was a moment when I said, ah-ha, I love this administrative stuff even though it’s a lot of headaches, and so I actually never really thought about it. I think it did help me develop the patience. You start to realize that it’s not going to happen overnight. It’s more important to develop relationships and get the help. You’re not going to do this alone and you really need other people, and that means building the relationships, developing the relationships that can really help. I’ve always said, at least at Anderson, if it’s the right thing to do for patients or for the institution, it ultimately will get done. Sometimes what I thought was the right thing didn’t turn out to necessarily be the right thing, but most of the time it’s pretty obvious. You’re really trying to do something that’s helping patients, helping the institution move forward, you’ll find the right support eventually and the right thing will get done. That was another thing that just kind of kept me going, realizing that this is a place where they want to make those things happen, they want to make sure that we’re providing state-of-the-art care for patients. There were so many great people here that it was --even moments when it seemed frustrating, and the challenges were a wall that you couldn’t see over, there’s so many good people that it kind of keeps you going. Patients as well, they’re so inspiring. I would say it’s the people that work here that kind of bring you here. It’s the patients that keep you here, that you get inspired by and realize that they’re the ones that are really going through the challenges. You look around and as challenging as it is with some of these things, the bureaucracy and all the things you’re trying to work through to continue to grow and build and develop something to help the patients, you realize what they’re going through.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Were there particular—I’m sorry.

Marshall Hicks, MD:

It keeps it in perspective.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Were there particular interactions you had with patients that were really inspiring to you, meaningful?

Marshall Hicks, MD:

I think what also kind of kept me going through those times, I can recall several patients and several names vividly, of patients that were actually just coming in. They had maybe a blocked kidney or liver and they had a drain that we had put in there to help drain it externally, because they could no longer have it draining internally. Or it was a drain that would allow it to drain internally but we couldn’t take it out because they were dependent on it to drain a kidney, say into the bladder. So they were in those situations where they would come back every couple months to have it changed and you develop a relationship with them. Some of them were struggling with their disease. Some of them, they’d beaten their disease but they had a situation where they still needed the catheter to help chronically, for the rest of their life. I remember they would enjoy coming to see you and just the interaction there and them requesting you personally because you feel like you really made them special that day. Then sometimes there are ones where, I remember one time in particular, a gentleman, I think he was an engineer, I’d gotten to know him and he ended up losing his battle but he, at the very end went into hospice and just the final hug before he left, knowing we’d never see each other again but knowing that we’d had a lot of good conversations; he always asked about the kids.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Yeah, yeah, that human connection, it’s very deep.

Marshall Hicks, MD:

Yeah.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Tell me more about kind of the evolution of your role as the section chief. I’ll give you a minute here.

Marshall Hicks, MD:

Yeah, thanks.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

It’s emotional work as well as being institution building.

Marshall Hicks, MD:

That was a long time ago.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

It stays with you though, those meaningful moments, they do.

Chapter 09: Choosing to Focus on Administration

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