Medical oncologist Reema Patel, MD, specializes in the treatment of bone and soft-tissue sarcomas, which are extremely rare cancers, as well as colorectal, pancreatic and hepatobiliary cancers. For this week’s Making the Rounds, we spoke with Dr. Patel about her approach to patient care and the power of making a connection.
What is your philosophy of care?
I always try to approach every single patient as if they were a friend or a family member of mine. So I really want to give them the best information that I can give them, because that's my job – to educate them. And then we make a decision together: things that work for their family and their work-life balance, and we start to make a treatment plan that works for them. And I think that's what leads to a more fulfilling relationship – both for me as a doctor, but also for the patient interacting with me.
What do you most enjoy about your job?
I think the most fun part of my job is really just getting to meet people. And that's both patients – and I get to meet new surgeons, and I get to meet new doctors, and oncologists, and things like that. I think this job affords us the ability to make a lot of connections.
Tell us about what drew you to oncology.
Even when you look at photos of me when I was young, I'm holding Playskool stethoscopes and playing doctor with my cousins and family members. So I've always wanted to do medicine. And then the interest in oncology came about when I actually was a first-year medical student. And I really just fell in love with not only the science of cancer care, but also the interactions that I saw those physicians have with their patients. And the patients were so involved in their care. So it made a huge difference that I could actually build a relationship with my patients, and educate them about their disease and how they can help in their process of getting better.
Watch our full interview with Dr. Patel.