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Welcome to The Medicine Mentors interview series. Our mission is to create a platform for top physician mentors to share key insights, traits and best practices based on their experiences to guide medical students and residents.

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Apr 26, 2024

Yelena Y. Janjigian, MD, is the Chief of the Gastrointestinal Oncology Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She is an internationally renowned medical oncologist who specializes in the treatment of malignancies of the gastrointestinal tract. Dr. Janjigian runs clinical and translational studies designed to develop better prevention, early diagnosis, staging and treatment strategies for patients with esophageal and stomach cancer. She is a recipient of numerous awards and was recently inducted as a member of American Society of Clinical Investigation.

“Oftentimes, fellows will present every detail of how the patient presented, the quality of their dysphagia, what they could eat and not eat for a patient with known biopsy positive gastric cancer and skim over the fact that the patient lives three hours away and can’t participate in a clinical trial or that they are scared to death of having a port placed because they recently had a love one die of cancer who had a port. It's an understanding of barriers, fears, and social background that ultimately guides treatment. As a trainee, learn to get the patient to tell you things that are not in the chart.” Join us on an inspiring journey from Azerbaijan to New York with Dr. Yelena Janjigian, the Chief of GI Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. 

Pearls of Wisdom:
1. We should be closers: People who can who can start and finish a project, bring something to fruition and close on it before progressing to the next stage. 
2. The ability to get patients to talk about what’s not in the charts by breaking down barriers will create a sure-fire marker of greatness in a physician. 
3. In the world of medicine, leadership is not about dictating or directing, it’s more about serving and supporting the people under us and around us.