Find your place in the medical field
Some people are born to be medical researchers – like Ronald Koenig, MD, Ph.D.endocrinologist specializing in thyroid cancer University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center. According to him, the excitement of delving into the unknown and potentially “breaking the nut” on a great biological mystery is one of the greatest joys in the medical field.
LISTEN: Add the new Michigan Medicine News Break to your Alexa-enabled device, or subscribe to our daily updates on itunes, google play and embroiderer.
“Thinking about an unanswered medical question and then creating a test to try to solve that problem, using my knowledge and experience, has been incredibly rewarding,” he says.
Now, as he retires from his 40-year career, Koenig reflects on his medical discoveries of which he is most proud, the advice he gives to new medical students and the future of cancer care. thyroid cancer.
What was your career at Michigan Medicine like?
I moved to Michigan in 1988, dividing my professional time between medical research and the medical profession. Being in a lab, but also being able to develop relationships with patients has provided unique aspects of professional fulfillment that the other doesn’t have for me. It gave me a balance in my career that I appreciated.
Do you like podcasts? Add the Michigan Medicine News Break to itunes or wherever you listen to podcasts.
I have been drawn to the intellectual challenges of research since university. Often the research can be frustrating, but the lure of solving an unresolved medical question is irresistible. The fact that I can test a hypothesis because I find it interesting and important and take it wherever the data can lead…that intellectual freedom is wonderful. This is how science progresses.
On the other hand, I don’t think I would be happy without patient care, which is why I will continue to do so part-time at Rogel Cancer Center. It is rewarding work. I get to see patients longitudinally, over years and years, and develop personal relationships with them.
For the past 25 years, you have also served as Director of the Medical Scientist Education Program. Can you explain what this role consisted of?
The Medical Scientist Training Program is a combined MD and Ph.D. program composed of 100 medical students. As director, I was responsible for defining the nature of the program. I really enjoyed the relationship I built with the students over the eight or nine years it took to complete both degrees and help prepare them for the field of academic medicine.
My own MD and Ph.D. training was key to defining who I would become as a professional. The University of Michigan is an educational institution and this program exists because the medical school recognizes its importance. I am grateful.
What have you learned in your career that you think would be helpful to medical students?
No career is perfect. Each career path has its pros and cons. Especially in medical research, there are times when you feel rejected or like you should have seen something and didn’t. You have to know how to adapt and move forward.