Joshua Meyer

Joshua Meyer ’90

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.

Ruth Bernstein

Ruth, and her husband, David, have two children at Schechter: Aviav (Grade 7) and Carolyn (Grade 6). They came to Schechter when their kids were in grades 5 and 6. We asked Ruth a few questions about her and her family’s experiences joining the Schechter community at the Upper School.

What do you love most about Schechter?

I love how connected to my kids the teachers seem to be. They take great pleasure in my kids’ accomplishments and are quick to notice when a child needs help academically. They also do everything they can, both within the school and by making suggestions about what to do outside the school, to help the children overcome their various challenges.

Why did you choose Schechter for your children?

I chose Schechter because my kids loved it on their visit. Our kids started Schechter as Upper School students because their own former (beloved) school had closed. One of my kids loves his class because he has found a like-minded group of kids to hang out and tell jokes with; the other felt the warmth of the teachers and classmates and asked to come for that reason.

In what ways have you seen your children grow and develop as a result of their experiences at Schechter?

Schechter is an academically rigorous place, and my children have developed an appreciation for how hard work translates into good grades and mastery of material. Even though they sometimes feel challenged by the volume of the work they have to do, they know how to ask for help and they know the teachers will help them succeed academically. Now that my child is on the Bar/Bat Mitzvah circuit, I have also seen him create strong bonds with his classmates, come out of his shell at parties and support his classmates as they celebrate. In fact, a couple of weeks ago, there was a weekday sunrise service for one child’s Bar Mitzvah–the kids got up early and carpooled to a very joyous service followed by a delicious breakfast. I can’t think of a better way to start the day!

What would you tell another parent to encourage them to consider enrolling their child at Schechter?

I think Schechter has so much to offer, particularly if it is the right fit for your kid–I would tell another parent to speak to as many other parents as possible, to attend Schechter events and to bring her or his children to visit as much as possible. I would also make sure to tell a fellow parent about the afterschool care, which my children and I both love.