An Oncologist's Midlife Crisis

An Oncologist's Midlife Crisis

Beverly Moy, MD

Jun 08, 2012
At my last birthday, my 11-year-old son said, “Congratulations, Mom! You’re halfway done with your life!” Ouch.

My dear son’s “funny” joke helped me realize that I am now a mid-level oncologist. This came as a bit of a surprise to me because frankly, it seems like just yesterday I was a junior oncologist. In truth, I probably should have realized this sooner because for a few years, my more junior colleagues have sought my advice for career or life guidance. That and the grey hairs I have been finding on my pillow.

Reflecting back on my career thus far, I have made a few observations. First, being a junior oncologist is really hard. Trying to become independent and finding your way without the camaraderie of your fellowship classmates at your side are enormously difficult. Second, the idealism and enthusiasm that you have when you are in the early part of your career are amazing. At the ASCO Annual Meeting, I saw my fellows and junior colleagues clutching their posters with ferocity and presenting their research with such pride and enthusiasm.

I used to think that when you reach the mid-level, the uphill battle of finding your way in oncology would be over and you could just coast for the rest of your career. However, it is daunting to look at all of the amazing things that our senior colleagues have accomplished. Our uphill battle is definitely not over. There is so much more to be done if we want to achieve even a fraction of what our most impressive senior colleagues have been able to do. We mid-level oncologists should keep the enthusiasm of our junior selves as we look forward into the future. The possibilities are endless and we now have enough experience and wisdom under our belts to do even more great things in the years ahead.

All things considered, being in the middle is a pretty good place to be.


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