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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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Aug 4, 2023

Renuka Iyer, MD, is a Professor of Oncology, Section Chief for Gastrointestinal Oncology and Co-Leader of Liver and Pancreas Tumor program at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University at Buffalo. She is also the Vice Chair of Faculty Recruitment and Retention in the Department of Medicine. She is a world renowned authority on Neuroendocrine Tumors. She was recently awarded the Mark R. Clements Award, for Vision Innovation and Collaboration from the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation.

“If it’s in my power to make something happen and I don’t, then I’ve failed them.” Having found her own path with the help of mentors that encouraged her, Dr. Renuka Iyer shares challenges and hurdles that helped make her into the mentor, professor, and researcher she is today. Tune in to this special episode of The Medicine Mentors at ASCO 2023 as we learn from Dr. Iyer how to be better mentees and people by working hard and keeping our word, why studying woodchucks helped her understand that challenges are opportunities for exploration and discovery, and how mentorship can be a lifelong continuum of support.

Pearls of Wisdom:
1. Try not to pigeonhole the idea of a mentor. You can find mentorship from anyone as long as they care about your future and want to help; stay open to diverse forms of mentorship. 
2. When you run into a wall, don’t be quick to give up. Work around obstacles and reach out to find new answers. As Dr. Iyer says, “necessity can be the mother of invention.” 
3. Not only does a good mentee respect their mentor’s time, but they recognize the value of vulnerability. Sharing your insecurities and fears with a mentor means you’re asking for help and growing. The other part of that is following through with agreements and tasks.
3. Find a balance between work and your own life. Find a support system that allows you to feel good about work and nourished at home. Your job is to care for others but that requires taking care of yourself first.