A Career Changing Trip to Seattle

  • Jennifer Sue Temel
    Address correspondence to: Jennifer Sue Temel, MD, Medical Oncology Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 55 Fruit Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.
    Harvard Medical School, Medical Oncology Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
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      As a young non-palliative care trained oncologist, I always felt like an outsider in the palliative care research community. I did not know any individuals in the field especially well, as most palliative care investigators at that time were conducting studies outside of oncology. I felt insecure about engaging with other palliative care investigators in light of my background, lack of experience, and junior status in the field. However, I also did not feel like I had a home in oncology. Most oncologists had not yet embraced and acknowledged the importance of palliative care research for patients with cancer, and so I was uncertain about how to move forward with in this research agenda and build a successful program without support and guidance from experienced investigators. These concerns were compounded by feedback from a National Cancer Institute Scientific Review Group which had not recommended my first application for a mid-Career Development Award (K24) for funding due to significant concerns about my plan to further my palliative care research methodology education and training. The review committee suggested that I consider adding site visits with senior palliative care investigators to learn about their research team structure, processes, and methods. While reading a summary statement on an unfunded proposal is always difficult, this weakness felt particularly challenging for me to acknowledge, and address due to my self-doubt about my place in the palliative care community.
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