I find Cool Jobsters in all sorts of places (though many of them seem to have been hiding lately). In this particular case, I was doing a little googling about Olympic athletes and found the blog of Dr. David Loeb. His blog title refers to him as “Dr. David”, so I’m going to do the same. (The red Chuck Taylors he’s wearing in the picture also somehow point me in that direction…)
Although at first it would seem that treating kids with cancer or sitting in a lab doing research are not very “fun” things to do, Dr. David’s passion for his work and the care he has for his patients and their families has made me reconsider what having a “cool job” can mean.
I’m going to let Dr. David’s interview, and his blog (which I very much encourage everyone to read) both speak for themselves.
When people ask you “what do you do?” how do you describe your job?
Usually I start out saying “I take care of kids with cancer.” If asked further, I elaborate and say I have a fabulous job, and that I get to both be doctor for a group of really great kids who happen to also have cancer AND I get to run a laboratory and do research about cancer, so that one day we may cure these kids without making them so sick in the process. The lab part is really great, because I get paid to play in the lab, kind of like a kid with a chemistry set.
What are the things about your job that you love?
I love developing relationships with the kids I take care of and their families. I love being able to help take care of really sick kids and make them better. I love being able to provide comfort to dying children and their families, even when I can’t hope to cure them anymore. I love learning new things in the lab and figuring out how to take those new ideas and make them into new treatments.
What are the things about your job that you hate?
I hate having to spend so much time writing grant applications begging for the financial support my lab needs to keep functioning.
What education, training, vocation or just plain luck would someone have to have in order to get a job like yours?
Immense amounts of education and training. I have both an MD and a PhD, so after high school I went to college (4 years) followed by a combination of medical school and graduate school (7 years) followed by a residency (3 years) and a fellowship (3 years). So the total amount of education and training after high school was 17 years. I’m not sure anyone would think of 17 years as luck. Unless… bad luck??
What is the funniest story you can think of that involves your professional training or your job?
On my 30th birthday, I was on call in the neonatal intensive care unit as a resident. My wife felt bad for me that I had to work in the hospital overnight on my 30th birthday party, so she sent me a singing telegram… a big pink gorilla in diapers. All of the parents gathered around and watched as the gorilla serenaded me, and some even videotaped it!