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Podcast: A Cancer Doctor Embraces Vulnerability in Healing

Miller School of Medicine hematologist Mikkael Sekeres, M.D., M.S., sees medicine through a storytelling perspective.

Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center hematologist Dr. Mikkael Sekkeres speaks with Miller School Dean Henri Ford.

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Dr. Sekeres and Dean Ford talk about the vulnerability that is a key aspect of Dr. Sekeres’ practice.

Mikkael Sekeres, M.D., M.S., was raised in a family of writers and storytellers.

His language is free of confusing medical jargon. He is thoughtful, measured and humble. He is vulnerable about his personal and professional challenges.

He is also a titan in his field.

“I’ve always thought medicine is inherently about storytelling,” he said. “We’re walking into the middle of our patients’ stories and then we work a little backward and a little forward to try to make sense of it and come up with a treatment plan.”

In the latest “Inside U Miami Medicine” episode, listeners meet Dr. Sekeres, chief of the Division of Hematology at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. An expert in myeloid malignancies, Dr. Sekeres has spent the past 20 years studying the characteristics of cancer, leading numerous clinical trials and authoring hundreds of manuscripts.

He works closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other agencies to refine the structure of clinical studies and achieve rapid approval of important drugs. He is a book author and regular contributor to major media outlets including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. He is also the embodiment of hope to his patients and a lesson in compassion to his fellow providers.

Dr. Sekeres imparts to aspiring and practicing physicians the significance of preserving the vulnerability and humanity that initially inspired them on their journey in medicine.

“Most medical students come in full of hope, full of compassion, full of empathy, and they want to change the world,” he said. “But, yet, as we go through the training process, there is a dehumanization that takes place. We become almost insensitive.”

Tune in as Henri R. Ford, M.D., M.H.A., dean and chief academic officer of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and Dr. Sekeres delve into important issues facing providers, including burnout, how to balance emotional attachment to patients with a physician’s own mental health, and more.

“Patients don’t want to have a story of cancer, but it’s my job to honor them and to recognize their heroism as they go on this unwanted journey,” said Dr. Sekeres. “The better we are at storytelling, the better doctors we are.”

Find the episode on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Tags: Dean Henri Ford, Dr. Mikkael Sekeres, hematology, physician burnout, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center