Special Series: Tribute to J Randall Curtis
- The Sojourns Scholar Leadership Program was founded in 2014 by the Cambia Health Foundation to enable emerging palliative care leaders to execute impactful projects and grow as national leaders in the field. Since the program's inception, J. Randall “Randy” Curtis, MD, MPH has been deeply involved in this vital endeavor: serving on the advisory board and personally mentoring eighteen scholars. Randy has sharpened our thoughts, guided our growth, and imparted wisdom in the process.
- “Before my (ALS) diagnosis, I used to think of my legacy as the papers I had published and the impact that my research has had on the field of medicine. Since my diagnosis, my thinking has changed. I now see my legacy as the people I have mentored and helped mentor and the people that they have mentored. This vision of legacy gives me much more joy and happiness than my old vision of legacy.”—J. Randall Curtis, UW Medicine Huddle, December 6,2021.1
- 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.
- J. Randall Curtis (“Randy”) has had a profound impact on the culture and state of the science of palliative care in serious illness, particularly in the critical care setting. He has accomplished this by bringing rigorous and innovative empirical research into understanding and improving communication, decision-making, and culture around end-of-life care in the intensive care unit (ICU). His legacy extends far beyond his scientific contributions through the personal impact of his compassion, creativity, and visionary brilliance on the cultures of ICUs and hospitals around palliative care.
- Severe Acute Brain Injury (SABI) is neurologically devastating, and surrogates for these patients may struggle with particularly complex decisions due to substantial prognostic uncertainty.
- Anesthesia and anesthesiologists have deep roots within the specialty of intensive care medicine,1 but anesthesiologists in the United States comprise only 13% of intensivists, compared to 20% with specialization in surgery and 65% internal medicine.2 With frequently separate training programs, different funding options, and departmental divides, anesthesiologists can sometimes feel as an “other” within the field of critical care. Yet, innovative leaders and mentors such as Randy Curtis bridge that divide.
- We met each other through academic medicine, in search for answers, and found friendship. Its value in my life was abundant, unearned grace. In Dr. Curtis, I learned the truth of the words of Thomas Mann, “Illness was merely transformed love.”
- Each year, approximately one million older adults die in American intensive care units (ICUs) or survive with significant functional impairment. Inadequate symptom management, surrogates’ psychological distress and inappropriate healthcare use are major concerns. Pioneering work by Dr. J. Randall Curtis paved the way for integrating palliative care (PC) specialists to address these needs, but convincing proof of efficacy has not yet been demonstrated.
- Academic mentoring is a topic that has received significant attention given its key role in career advancement and success. Much of the literature on mentorship talks of specific types of relationships including “mentor,” “coach,” “connector,” and “sponsor.”1 These mentoring phenotypes are often discussed early in one's career when trainees are particularly vulnerable to demands of time, academic productivity, home life, and competing opportunities. As a result, numerous publications focus on the characteristics, and behaviors of successful mentoring relationships.