Randal Weber, M.D. Transcript

 

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Interview question for Dr. Weber:
Why M. D. Anderson?

Dr. Weber answers:
Well, I think that if you want to take care of cancer patients there is nowhere better, in probably the world, to do that than here. Really because we have, not only the state-of-the-art care that we deliver to patients, but also all the support services the patients require to get them through their cancer treatment. I think the other reason is that, it’s in institutions like M. D. Anderson, where the breakthroughs will be made for future cancer therapies that are really going to have an impact of this disease.

Interview question for Dr. Weber:
Tell us about your work.

Dr. Weber answers:
I’m a head and neck surgeon. We call ourselves head and neck surgical oncologists now, because we don’t think of ourselves as just going to the operating room to do a surgical procedure, we really work with colleagues from other disciplines -- radiation oncology, medical oncology, rehabilitation services -- to deliver care to the patient, and sometimes the best care for patients is surgery, at other times it might be radiation therapy, it might be chemotherapy and radiation, so we think of ourselves as being more ecumenical today than we were perhaps back when I was in training. And, one of the great strengths of M. D. Anderson is that we have strength in all the different disciplines. We don’t just have excellent surgeons. We have some of the best radiation oncologists you would find anywhere, and medical oncologists as well. So we are able to bring a team together, to deliver the best care to the patient. And that’s the difference between just a head and neck surgeon who goes to a hospital and operates, and a head and neck surgical oncologist who draws on all the resources of a broad team to care for a patient.

Interview question for Dr. Weber:
Today, you mentor people.

Dr. Weber answers:
Yes, and that’s really one of the things I get a great deal of satisfaction from -- taking our new fellows who come in from various institutions and to try to impart to them our knowledge, share our experience with them, and teach them how to be excellent surgeons -- and then watching them leave here and go on into their careers. They are like ambassadors for our program and for the institution and they take the message far and wide. I find that to be one of the most gratifying things that I do.

Interview question for Dr. Weber:
What does M. D. Anderson have to offer trainees?

Dr. Weber answers:
I think there are great advantages for both clinical and research fellows at M. D. Anderson. On the clinical side you are exposed to a large number of patients who come through the institution with a particular diagnosis. And if you in some -- in another institution where perhaps they didn’t see the same volume of patients that we do -- it would take you many more years to gain the same experience, so in that period of time that you’re here you are going to be exposed to a large number of very common diseases and also a significant number of more rare cancers that we take care of. You also have faculty here that are some of the most experienced in the world, just because of the volume of patients that we take care of. So, it’s a rare opportunity to bring those two things together and it’s really beneficial to our trainees. On the research side, we have a number of laboratories throughout the institution that are investigating everything from the very basic causes of cancer, to new drugs that we can apply to treat these diseases, not only in the laboratory, but to take those concepts from the laboratory back into the clinic and treat patients with them. And, there are a number of labs throughout the institution that really could provide the environment for our trainees who wish to become investigators.

Interview question for Dr. Weber:
Advice?

Dr. Weber answers:
If you are considering coming to M. D. Anderson, you need to spend some time here -- more than just a one day interview trip. Try to take the opportunity to spend a few days with one of the clinical faculty and follow them around, and live in their world for a few days. And the same would go for someone interested in a laboratory experience. Spend some time with the senior investigator in that laboratory. Follow them around, go to lab meetings with them. Then you get a real insight into the environment where you -- where you may come to spend the next few years of your training. And this is so important, because this is the foundation for the rest of your career. What you obtain from here will hold you in good stead for the rest of your life as you replace the next generation that will be cancer specialists and investigators.

Interview question for Dr. Weber:
Final thoughts?

Dr. Weber answers:
I think one of the other strengths of M. D. Anderson is the sense that we are all part of a team here. And that goes from those who are responsible for keeping the hospital and clinics clean, to those that make the big financial decisions every day to keep us going, so -- everyone is really -- I think vested, in that we have a mission here and that we’re making a difference, so -- I come to work every morning happy about what I’m going to be doing during the day, and I leave feeling like I have accomplished something. Not that every day is not challenging both physically and emotionally -- some days are very difficult -- but when you look across what you’ve done over your career at M. D. Anderson, I think it’s a very positive experience and you make an impact.