Physician-Cancer Survivor to Address Medical School Commencement

Physician-Cancer Survivor to Address Medical School Commencement

May 20, 2003 6:00 PM

A physician whose experience with cancer fundamentally altered her view of a doctor's role in healing will address the University of Utah School of Medicine May 24 commencement.

Elizabeth M. Allen, M.D., associate dean for student affairs and education and associate professor of pediatrics at the U medical school, will present "Reflections On Doctors and Patients."

Allen, a 20-year physician who came to the U in 1990, learned last July that she had non-Hodgkins lymphoma, cancer of the lymphatic system, and began her "most significant educational journey into medicine."

The experience taught her that physicians, by themselves, cannot heal patients. But by assisting them in examining their thoughts and feelings during illness--and by acknowledging those emotions--physicians can help patients heal.

Three months after Allen started chemotherapy, the tumors in her chest and abdomen, remarkably, had disappeared, but she underwent another three months of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The experience would change her view of how doctors should interact with patients.

Allen is a faculty member of the Department of Pediatrics Critical Care Division. As associate dean she is responsible for all aspects of undergraduate medical student life, as well as the development, implementation, and evaluation of the medical school curriculum. She also is in charge of the medical school's reaccreditation process.

The class of 2003 will include 106 doctor of medicine degrees, 33 doctor of philosophy degrees, two master's of philosophy and 14 master's of science degrees, 19 master's of science in public health degrees; 27 master's of public health degrees; one master's in public health administration; 40 master's of physician assistant studies degrees, and 25 bachelor's of science degrees and one bachelor's of science degree in medical laboratory science/cytotechnology. (Cytotechnology is the microscopic study of human cells to find disease.)

Commencement starts at 2 p.m. in Kingsbury Hall on the U of U campus.

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