After a lengthy surgery failed to remove a cancerous mass from her pancreas, Sharlene Mitchell’s doctors told her nothing more could be done. Mitchell, however, was not ready to give up hope and sought a second opinion at Duke. Because of her determination, she is now cancer-free and thankful for every day.
A study initiated at Duke University School of Medicine lays bare significant racial and gender disparities in America’s surgical leadership. Of the 2,165 faculty members included across 154 departments, men overwhelmingly claimed the top spots in surgical leadership, making up 85.9% of department chairs, 68.4% of vice chairs, and a staggering 87% of division chiefs. What’s more a mere 8.9% of these leadership roles were filled by those from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups. While women made a modest showing as vice chairs at 31.6%, they remained underrepresented elsewhere. Many of these women and those from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups were clustered in roles linked to diversity and faculty development, which might not pave the way to top department positions. The study in JAMA Surgery — led by Oluwadamilola “Lola” M. Fayanju, MD — stands out because the research team of surgeons, trainees, and biostatisticians looked in detail at different leadership roles and the implications these disparities have for the pipeline to department chair. CONTINUE READING at the Duke University School of Medicine Newsroom
Monica Bodd thinks a lot about the patient experience and how to make it better — both through research and clinical practice. While earning her MD and her Masters of Theological Studies degrees at Duke, she learned from some of the best, including Thomas LeBlanc, MD, MA, MHS, Dan Rocke, MD, JD, and Walter Lee, MD, MHS, from Duke Cancer Institute, and from the Duke Divinity School, Warren Kinghorn MD, ThD, Sarah Barton OT, ThD,Susan Eastman, MDiv, PhD, and Kate Bowler, PhD. Patient experience research in oncology is an investigation of common issues faced by people with cancer, including symptom burden, quality of life, and psychological distress, as well as how patients understand their prognosis and make decisions about their treatment through the various stages of their disease. “The way I explain it to my friends or to my family, it’s about asking patients how they live and work through their diagnoses on a day-to-day basis, centering their perspective over the perspective of a medical record or a diagnosis or a doctor's words,” said Bodd. “There are validated and quantitative aspects to it, but it’s more about what we wouldn't necessarily capture with our big data and metrics… I believe it’s the redeeming hope for a lot of medicine.” As Bodd was leaving Duke to begin her residency in Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at Stanford Medicine this past spring, she spoke with DCI about some of the unique projects she got to work on and co-lead as a medical student and theology student — and the wisdom and practices she’s carrying forward in her medical career from both disciplines.