A Conversation with Joshua Meyer ’90, Radiation Oncologist
Joshua Meyer ’90 is an attending physician in radiation oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center, a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Cancer that is part of the Temple University Health system. Josh directs the residency and fellowship programs in radiation oncology. A graduate of UMASS Medical School, Joshua completed his residency in New York City at Weill Cornell Medical Center before joining the faculty at Fox Chase.
Tell us a little bit about your job.
I am lucky to have a position that allows me to do a wide variety of things. In the clinical realm, I see patients with cancer before, during and after treatment, plan their radiation treatment with the help of our staff, and discuss individualized patient care plans with other members of the health care team. I also enjoy teaching residents and fellows, which is mostly done in a one-on-one apprenticeship setting. I spend some time performing research as well, attempting to understand how we might be able to use our newest technologies in a more effective and safe way.
How did you come to choose radiation oncology as a career path?
In medical school I came to understand that while I have a lot of respect for primary care physicians, I was most drawn to patients who were dealing with a serious diagnosis. However, I knew that my personality was more suited to patients who were sick in the big picture sense instead of urgently requiring an intervention, so I knew the emergency department was out.
Oncology seemed like a good fit from that perspective. I then found that radiation oncology offered a lot of direct patient interaction, but also enough quiet, deliberate moments planning treatments with computer modeling and exciting new technologies to keep a good balance in my work life. Plus, I had great mentors in radiation oncology, and everyone I met in the field seemed happy!
You see patients and you also research new treatments for cancer. How did Schechter help to nurture both your research skills and your desire to help others?
I still think about some of my earliest educational experiences at Schechter when I’m teaching or writing papers. I remember writing my first research paper with Mrs. Lanckton in sixth-grade, and learning that just because you researched a fact you do not necessarily have to include it in your paper. That certainly comes up with some frequency when I’m writing or editing. I certainly think Schechter provided me with a very solid foundation as a writer. (Mrs. Samuels was the first teacher I had who taught me to evaluate each word and ask what purpose it was serving.) I also think that the integration of secular studies with Judaic studies, prayer, celebration of holidays and other events really showed me how a community functions in a much broader sense than just an academic environment. That deep sense of connection, plus discussion of ethics and morals more explicitly in class, really ingrained in me the importance of helping those who I am fortunate to be able to impact.
How does your time at Schechter continue to influence you today?
I continue to think back on what I learned in both specific and general ways. I think of Peter Stark’s z”l charismatic way of leading discussions of Tanach, and do my best to emulate him when I am teaching a group of residents or fellows. I have repeatedly found myself seeking out small communities that rely heavily on each other and where everyone counts. That certainly started at Schechter. I also am consistently grateful for my Jewish education and frequently call upon things I learned at a young age when celebrating holidays with my family or simply answering the unpredictable questions of my seven and four year-old children.