Chapter 19: Cancer is a Problem for All Humanity: A Truth that Inspires Faculty
In response to a question about how intercultural experiences can have an impact on faculty, Dr. Dmitrovsky notes that his experience working near the Cambodian border early in his career made him understand that cancer is a problem for all humanity. He talks about how knowing this gives meaning to all faculty and employees who work at MD Anderson. He explains that people are inspired and empowered by meaningful goals and offers the view that faculty experiences with global partners can reinforce these larger goals, which can get lost in the details of daily work.
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center - Institutional Mission and Values
Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:
and I'm wondering, what kind of opportunities do these relationships with global sister institutions offer, do you think, for the faculty? And how can that kind of experience deepen or make more subtle a researcher's practice?
Ethan Dmitrovsky, MD:
I guess the first truth that I'd like to talk about is that cancer, sadly, is a problem for all humanity. It's not an American problem. We were just speaking about Hunan Cancer Center it's not a Chinese problem. It's a problem for all humanity, and that may be a truth that strikes home less than we think. But oftentimes, when I'm in a meeting of staff and faculty, I'll simply ask, "Is there anyone in this room who hasn't been touched by cancer, either with personal diagnosis, a diagnosis in their family, or having a dear friend touched?And because half the men in the United States and a third of the women will personally receive a cancer diagnosis in their lifetimes, I there's hardly a meeting that I go to where people say, "I've never been touched.I think that that truth is also true for faculty. And my personal view is that if we can recognize that cancer is a problem that touches all of us whether we're a cancer doctor or a nurse clinician or a physician assistant or a frontline nurse that this is extraordinarily meaningful work that we're fortunate to have as our personal charge or mission every day, then we can broaden our perspective and align it more closely align our personal perspective with the institutional objective to confine cancer to history in Houston, Texas, the nation, and the world. All of those are worthy goals, and I would submit that people are engaged, empowered by worth goals. So when I was just, as an example, at Hunan Cancer Center, we had a number of faculty members who joined us at the event and went on rounds with the doctors. And they were touched by the commitment that the physicians and the nurses and the staff at Hunan Cancer Center had to learn those practices, in order to have a sense of social responsibility to advance the health of the citizens of Hunan Province. Very few of us would have a tin ear to such an experience, and it is valuable for a faculty member here to have that experience, because it allows you to focus your attention on what's important, which is to do everything in our personal power to reduce the cancer burden in Houston, in the state of Texas, in our nation, and worldwide. And in a sense, there are only a few institutions that would have such a possibility, so we are so fortunate to have meaningful work, but we're even more fortunate to work at a place that has the reach, that could affect the health [of cancer patients] far beyond our campus. Most people respond to a sense of social responsibility, because very few of us our in these positions other than for passion for the work. And sometimes, we don't forget our passion, but the passion gets not front in our mind when the day to day reality of delivering cancer care the bureaucracy associated with that and with the conduct of clinical trials and with the process of writing grants sometimes gets in the forefront of our mind's eye. But to try to bring that passion forward is helpful to our whole community, I would respectfully submit.
Dmitrovsky, Ethan MD and Rosolowski, Tacey A. PhD, "Chapter 19: Cancer is a Problem for All Humanity: A Truth that Inspires Faculty" (2015). Interview Chapters. 654.
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