Choosing a Career Path

Title

Choosing a Career Path

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Identifier

KleinermanE_01_20140521-Final_Clip01

Publication Date

5-21-2014

Publisher

The Making Cancer History® Voices Oral History Collection, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

City

Houston, Texas

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.

Transcript

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

How did it affect you, seeing your dad in his profession? To what degree did you understand and when did you understand what he did as a doctor?

Eugenie Kleinerman, MD

I think very early. He was certainly my first mentor and, you know, I wanted to be a doctor from—I think five years old is when I really remember it.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

Really?

Eugenie Kleinerman, MD

Yeah.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

What did you think of at that time? How did you see being a doctor?

Eugenie Kleinerman, MD

Okay, well, mostly from the aspect of my own pediatrician. So, of course, my dad is a physician, so he has a lot of physician friends. In fact, my mother used to say, “We have our physician friends and we have our civilian friends.” And she said, “I find our civilian friends are much more interesting.” But anyway. (laughs) So he had a very close relationship with many physicians of all different disciplines, internal medicine, pediatrics, OB/GYN, people in basic science, because he was a laboratory investigator and doing pulmonary research.

So, of course, back then pediatricians made house calls, and I remember having the measles once—well, yes, only once, yes. I remember having the measles, and then it was a pretty—it wasn’t an easy disease for a kid. It was before vaccinations. And so he would make house calls, and he came and he said, “Hi, Genie, I see you have the mizzles.” But I think the vaccine was just coming out then. And so he spent maybe a minute with me and then immediately went to my sister to give her the vaccine so she didn’t get it.

So I really, you know, I just had an affinity for the way he was and the way he treated the whole family. The whole family was really part of the visit, even though it was just me and my sister. It was always talking to my mother and follow-up with my dad. So I decided I wanted to be a pediatrician.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

Wow. That’s amazing.

Eugenie Kleinerman, MD

Also, my dad took me to the laboratory, so my mother—in those days, the woman stayed at home, and my dad was a doctor, and I think if my mother—if it were today, she would have been a professional woman, but who was going to take care of the children? And my father was definitely traditional, you know, “You stay home, cook dinner, take care of the children,” whatever. So, Sunday she would teach Sunday school, so it was his responsibility to take care of me on Sunday. So he took me to the lab, so I got a very early exposure.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

What kind of world was that when you were little?

Eugenie Kleinerman, MD

Oh, it was exciting. I loved it. I mean, he’d always give me a little project to do, or he’d have one of his postdocs or whatever, you know, take me, and we’d figure out something to do. I’d look under the microscope with him.

Now, one thing, he did animal research, and there was a kennel where they had lots of dogs, and I remember—as I said, I was like five or six years old, and I’d have to walk through that kennel. And when you walked through, the dogs would, you know, really bark, and I remember, like, taking a deep breath, putting my hands down, and walking quickly, because I was afraid if I didn’t, I would fall against one of the cages and the dogs would bite me or whatever.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

But that didn’t put you off?

Eugenie Kleinerman, MD

No. No. No. So, you know, from an early age I had an exposure to the lab and to medicine.

The other thing was that my dad, even though he had this traditional viewpoint for women at home, was very supportive for women going into medicine. One of his technicians, her name was Mabel, she was a black woman, and he thought she was very talented, and he was really instrumental in getting her to go to medical school. She went to Meharry, which was a black medical school back then. So he just felt medicine and science was the most wonderful field, and anybody who wanted to do that, he felt that it was his duty to, if they were hard workers, to facilitate that, to be a mentor.

Choosing a Career Path

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