Chapter 29: Accomplishments, Retirement, and a Love of Cosmology

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Chapter 29: Accomplishments, Retirement, and a Love of Cosmology

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Description

Dr. Rodriguez begins by listing her most significant accomplishments: launching the concept of survivorship; imbedding into MD Anderson culture the role of quality officers; integrating Advanced Care Planning into treatment planning; serving as champion for the Physician Assistants Program; helping everyone who has reached out to her as a role model. Next she talks about the interests she plans to pursue in retirement: psychology, art, reading, and cosmology. She notes that she minored in philosophy as an undergraduate and her thinking has been very influenced by process philosophers who believe that reality self-creates. She believes that the Universal Mind is also self-creating and explains that this spiritual component of her belief system helps her cope with change.

Identifier

RodriguezA_04_20150605_C29

Publication Date

6-5-2015

City

Houston, Texas

Topics Covered

View on Career and Accomplishments; Character, Values, Beliefs, Talents; Personal Background; Influences from People and Life Experiences; Career and Accomplishments; Post Retirement Activities; Professional Values, Ethics, Purpose; Faith

Transcript

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

I had—we’re at 3:30, but I had just a few more questions I wanted to ask you, if we could go over a tiny bit, is that OK?

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

OK—

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Or do you—

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

Sure. There was one other—I know there was a meeting I’m supposed to go to.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

OK. Do you want to check on the time?

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

Let me check on the time.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

OK. I’ll just pause this for a moment. [The recorder is paused] All right, we paused just for a couple of seconds. Well, I wanted to ask you, kind of, you know, retrospective look. What do you feel most contented to have set in place or accomplished during your time as VP [Vice President] of Medical Affairs? Or, in general here at the Institution?

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

Well, I’m very happy to have been charged and to have successfully launched the whole concept of survivorship care. I’m also very happy to have initiated, and hopefully by this time sufficiently embedded into the organizational structure the concept and roles of quality officers within the departments, because I think that that is going to be a really integral role and process for the future of how we conduct medicine. I’m also hopeful that I will be able to, before I retire, to change the culture enough to embed into our day-to-day processes the whole Advanced Care Planning conversation, and to also embed into the consciousness that this is not just about talking about dying, for God’s sake, that’s not it! It’s about considering all aspects of one’s future, and how healthcare will be, how one will plan for healthcare in whatever faces of life come in the future; whether it’s wellness or protracted illness or end-of-life. Any of those are in the future of any one of us, really. I’m also very happy to have been, and to continue to be, I hope, a champion for the Physician Assistants program, which was a relatively small group when I took on this job, and now has grown to really a major workforce in the organization. I deeply respect them as professionals; I think they’re very important and critical in helping us carry out our mission. And they’re going to be here to stay, as well. And I’m very happy to have helped everyone who, in some way, has reached out to me. I hope I’ve been an appropriate role model for them, and that I’ve stimulated them to extend their potential.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Exciting role.

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

Yes, thank you.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Do you have retirement plans?

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

Well, yes and no. I know that I do wish to retire. I don’t envision myself being here forever. I don’t have a defined date, but I do want—I don’t see myself lingering here forever, like some people have in the past.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

What are you looking forward to doing?

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

I actually am looking forward to learning totally different disciplines than medicine.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Such as?

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

I’m very interested in psychology, I’m very interested in cosmology. I’m very—

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Oh, really? How neat!

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

—interested in art.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Uh-huh? Do you practice any kind of art form? Do you paint, or—

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

I used to paint.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Really?

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

I have not painted for probably twenty years.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Wow. That’s wonderful!

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

I hope I’ll pick it up again.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Yeah. Anything else? Other kinds of areas that you’re planning on exploring during retirement?

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

I think that’s enough.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Yeah, that is enough. And when you cosmology, do you mean astronomy, or do you mean, you know, reading the cards?

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

Oh no no, I mean astronomy.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Astronomy.

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

And understanding the birth of the universe.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Oh, cool. Very cool! (laughter)

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

I’m looking forward to people finding out exactly what dark matter is. I hope that happens in my lifetime.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Yeah, I’m a big fan of dark matter myself. This sort of idea that emptiness holds us together is pretty cool. (laughter)

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

But that’s the thing, it’s not empty.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

It’s not totally empty, I always think that. What are they called, WIMPs? Weekly Interactive Massive Particles, or something like that? Yes. Very cool stuff. Very cool stuff. And is there anything that you would like to share about who you are as a person behind the role, you know, a special hobby, or fascination, or talent?

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

Oh, gosh.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

A book you read that changed your life?

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

Oh, the book I read that changed my life, well, I think that book was one that I read many, many—it wasn’t a book, it was a whole discipline of books. I have a minor in philosophy from my college, and I was most influenced at the time by the process philosophers, which—maybe that’s why I like cosmology as well, because their point of view is that unlike the platonic classic view that everything is fixed, and there is an underlying structure to reality, the process philosopher’s point of view is that philosophy is a constantly evolving and self-creating reality. Or realty self-creates. Which, if one believes in the underlying force of reality being a god or a mind, or the universal mind, it’s exciting to think that the universal mind is self-creating as well, along with its creation. So it gives me a sense of being part of the creative process of the universal mind, and that, I think, is exciting.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Does that have a spiritual dimension to it for you?

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

Oh, sure. Of course.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

OK. Yeah. How does that—

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

I think it explains everything.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

It explains everything. (laughter) Does it play out in your professional life and your personal life? That fundamental belief?

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

Well, I think in my professional life, it helps me to deal with change. I mean, there is no such thing as stability. I mean, nothing is static. Everything is in motion. The planet is in motion. I mean, here we are hurling through space, I don’t know how many thousand miles per second. We don’t perceive it, we’re not conscious of it, but it’s happening even as we stand here, so the next moment, maybe we’ll be coursing through a worm hole that will throw us into a totally different universe, how do we know, right?

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

And wouldn’t that be a cool event?

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

Yeah! (laughter)

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

And in your personal life? Does that play out there too?

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

I have to say my personal life, paradoxically, I like routine and stability. (laughter)

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

It helps you get [inaudible] change here.

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

Some things have to be steady and stable, otherwise you could be hurled off into space, you know?

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Absolutely true.

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

There’s value to gravity, OK?

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

There is. Well, is there anything else you’d like to add at this point, Dr. Rodriguez?

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

No. I thank you for the opportunity to have this conversation. It’s been very interesting, actually.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

It has been. Well, I thank you for your time. I really do.

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

You’re most welcome.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

And it was a really interesting conversation.

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

So I’m looking forward to seeing the transcript.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Yes.

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

See how many “oops” moments I have.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Oh, there’ll probably be a few, everybody has those. But, well, I want to thank you for time.

Alma Rodriguez, MD:

You’re welcome.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

And I want to just for the record say that I am turning off the recorder at twenty minutes of four. Thank you.

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Chapter 29: Accomplishments, Retirement, and a Love of Cosmology

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