Physician Spotlight: Meet Jae Jung, MD, PhD

Fast Facts

Director of the oncologic dermatology program at Norton Cancer Institute

Hometown: Grew up in San Ramon, a suburb in the East Bay Area of San Francisco, CA

Family: Husband, George Calvert (orthopedic oncologist also with Norton Healthcare). He grew up in Louisville, KY and is a proud graduate of St. Xavier and a rabid U of L fan. We have two children: Thomas Calvert age 5, and Joseph Calvert age 3. Both are at Sacred Heart Preschool. We have lots of extended family in town, which is the primary reason we re-located to Louisville about a year ago.

Hobbies: Spending time with my family; I love cooking and reading when I can. I like the idea of gardening but haven’t been very successful with it thus far.

Education: MD, PhD at Washington University in Saint Louis, MO where I also completed my residency in Dermatology. Research fellowships (melanoma) in Wellington, New Zealand and Salt Lake City Utah

Medical News: Why did you become a doctor?

Jae Jung; I loved science and biology in high school. I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives and have an impact on society. Medicine was the perfect combination of all the things I wanted to accomplish and to be.

MN: Why did you choose this particular specialty?

JJ: I did not choose dermatology until late in my training. I became very interested in the immune system and how it affected human cancer biology, especially in the context of melanoma. I was fortunate to have great mentors who focused on complex medical dermatology and skin cancers. Although there are some who focus on cosmetics, the vast majority of dermatologists treat some pretty tough medical conditions. I knew I wanted to specialize in the care of cancer patients, which I have done for the past 6 years since completing my training.

MN: Is it different than what you thought? How?

JJ: Every side effect is significant to cancer patients. Dermatologic ones are often the most concerning because they are so visible. Quality of life becomes so important to these patients whose quantity of life is diminished. Patients will often break down emotionally when they develop a severe facial rash. It is so stigmatizing that many want to stop therapy. Luckily, I am able to help these patients look and feel better. It has been very rewarding.

MN: What is the biggest misconception about your field?

JJ: Most people believe that dermatology is primarily cosmetics since that is a lot of what they see, especially on TV. There’s a fun clip that you can find on YouTube showing a haggard-looking surgical resident looking for the dermatology department. When she finds them, everyone is getting facials and hand massages in a spa-like setting… I wish!

MN: What is the one thing you wish patients knew and/or understood about doctors?  

JJ: The amount of work that goes on behind the scenes. From charting to phone calls, setting up referrals, getting prior authorizations, a lot goes on to make good patient care happen. I don’t think most patients understand how much time physicians dedicate to patient care outside their office hours.

MN: What is your opinion of managed care and how will this affect you and your practice?  

JJ: There is no perfect system but regardless of the changes in medicine, my goal for each patient is delivering optimal health care.

MN: What’s one thing your colleagues would be surprised to learn about you?

JJ: I am not athletic or “outdoorsy” so many people are surprised to learn that I lived in new Zealand for a year and hiked all over the North and South Islands, including up waterfalls and across snow covered saddles!

MN: What’s the best advice you ever received? Who gave it to you? 

JJ: I had a patient with a complicated problem. It took a long time review risks and benefits of various treatments and I could tell that she was feeling a bit overwhelmed. Finally, she said, “Please just treat me like I was your mother.” That simplified it for both of us.

MN: What is your motto?

JJ: Keep learning and never be afraid of trying something new. Medicine is changing rapidly and new treatments become available continuously.

MN: If you weren’t a doctor, what would you be?

JJ: I love my job! I can’t really imagine doing anything else.

MN: Who are your heroes in healthcare?

JJ: The medical staff and nurses at Norton Cancer Institute are really incredible and truly go the extra mile for our patients. They recently put together a donation basket for a patient who was struggling financially and delivered it to his door. Our research team here is amazing! They efficiently process the immense amount of paperwork and red tape it takes to successfully implement clinical trials which are so critical to improving health care. They get to know the patients extremely well and give a lot of TLC!

MN: Who are your heroes in real life?

JJ: I want to acknowledge my mentor, Dr. Lynn Cornelius. She is the heart of the program at Washington University where I did my training. She encouraged me to apply to Dermatology and has supported all of my academic endeavors. She always returns my calls right away and gives me reassurance, optimism and great advice. She is my personal hero and I am so grateful for her.

MN: What’s the last good book you read?

JJ: All the Light We Cannot See, and The Nightingale. Both are amazingly written. I also was deeply impressed by The Fault in Our Stars – especially since I have seen so many young people with cancer. They show such amazing courage.

MN: Favorite daytime beverage?

JJ: Jasmine green tea

MN: Three words coworkers use to describe you?

JJ: These were some actual answers from my NCI staff:

Determined, Funny, and Honest

CARING, INTELLIGENT AND CONSIDERATE

Down to earth

Smart, Fun, Compassionate

MN: Three items on my desk?

JJ: Can’t really seem find anything under the giant piles of paper…

MN: Favorite Vacation spot?

JJ: No particular favorite – I love exploring someplace new!

MN: Favorite snack?

JJ: Cambazola with fresh, crusty French bread… mmmm.

 

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