With her first career move, oncologist becomes ‘triple threat’
Sherise C. Rogers, MD, MPH, is not a person who shies away from a challenge.
At University of Florida, Rogers is taking on two of the most daunting and persistent problems in the field of oncology: poor pancreatic cancer outcomes and racial disparities in training completion.
“Pancreatic cancer is a disease that, unfortunately, has a very poor prognosis,” Rogers, an assistant professor and gastrointestinal oncologist who joined the university last year, told Healio in an interview for Women in Oncology’s “Women On the Move” series. “We definitely need more treatment options and clinical trials for pancreatic cancer. That is why I am working to design new clinical trials and enroll patients in existing clinical trials to advance the field.”
‘Influence the bright minds’
Another aspect of her current position that appealed to Rogers was the chance to be a “triple threat” — serving in a role that combines research, patient care and teaching.
“I’ve started working with a first-year medical student oncology course, and next year I’m going to be the co-course director,” she said. “I get to influence the bright minds of students as they embark on the beginning of their medical education journey.”
Rogers has had the opportunity to lecture and shadow the current course director this academic year.
“I’ve had a fantastic time,” she said.
Rogers also has been named diversity officer for graduate medical education (GME) this upcoming year, which will allow her to address disparities in residency and fellowship programs.
“It’s a new position; my duties include working with GME to address the needs of diversity, equity and inclusion within all of our residency and fellowship programs and to work with underrepresented minorities who are facing challenges in completing their training,” she said. “My job will be to give them a supportive resource to ensure that they complete their education.”
Rogers said Black and other underrepresented minorities tend to discontinue their training programs at disproportionate rates than whites. Her job as diversity officer will entail identifying the reasons for these disparities and working to address them.
“I’m sure everyone’s situation is somewhat different, but we do know that systemic racism and biases may play a role in these disparities. There’s a ‘hidden culture’ around what it takes to succeed in medicine that we aren’t all privy to,” she said, “There is sometimes an unwritten code. I’m excited to give back in this way because I had my own challenges and am now in a position to help other underrepresented minorities succeed.”
‘Go with your instincts’
Rogers said she has greatly enjoyed the various aspects of her job so far, adding that she looks forward to taking on her new responsibilities. Although she was initially concerned about the transition not only to a new institution, but also to a new city without her familiar support system nearby, she is very happy with her decision.
“I’m so glad I took the job, because I get to balance my love of taking care of patients who are undergoing a stressful transition with a chance to advance the field by designing and running clinical trials,” she said.
She said she would advise women contemplating a career change to listen to the advice of trusted mentors, but ultimately to listen to themselves.
“Hopefully, you have good mentorship and other people who have your best interests at heart and can help guide you on these decisions,” she said. “But you also have to go with your instincts.”
For more information:
Sherise C. Rogers, MD, MPH, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.