NO COUNTRY FOR YOUNG MEN

No Country For Young Men

By

Leonard Zwelling

            I
believe there was a blog with a similar title written during the age of the
Faculty Voice. I think it was anonymous so I guess I am tipping my hat to a
shadow. Nonetheless, I need to bring this issue up again because I received an
email that necessitates this blog.

            A
mid-career member of the clinical faculty who is very productive admitted that
he has household bills of a rather steep nature that he must pay (mortgage, car
payments, high school tuition and college right around the corner) and cannot
afford to confront the forces of DarthPinho and his minions of white clad
troopers from the 20th floor, despite a great concern that the direction in
which we are being led could derail his career. More senior members of the
faculty are advising the young man to cool his jets and they assure him that
the current leadership crew consists of short-timers. The mid-career faculty
member is not so sure and neither am I. But the faculty member is equally
unwilling to pick up stakes and move again. What should the faculty member do?

            What,
indeed?

            I
am very sympathetic to the plight of the mid-career faculty. The scientists who
have had grants supporting their work are scraping together funding streams
from unlikely places, meaning not the NIH. The clinical faculty members are
being pushed harder and harder with no real increase in compensation while
working in an environment where their mastery of their craft is appreciated
very little if at all by anyone but their grateful patients. Everyone needs
some strokes from the boss once in a while and the clinicians are receiving no
love at all from the 20th floor.

            In
my opinion, it is not the job of the mid-career faculty, whether tenured or
not, to fight the battle being waged for the heart and soul of the MD Anderson
Cancer Center. Full professors, old men and old women, step up!

            The
vast majority of the faculty members who have attained the rank of tenured full
professor are of an age when the demand on their very high revenue streams is
far lower than it was when their families were where the families of the
mid-careerists are now. These older tenured faculty members, while productive,
have probably done their best academic work already (I know I have) although
they surely are master clinicians and scientists. They are also grey, wise,
experienced and tough—a lot tougher than the crew on the 20th floor
for these senior faculty have been facing cancer for 30 years or more and are
familiar with the true enemy. They have looked into the face of death itself
like Father Karras confronting the demon in The Exorcist. The priest/psychiatrist
faced his faith and pure evil and in falling victim to the latter saved his
possessed patient and restored his own tenuous belief in the forces of both
good and evil and the righteousness of his battle against the forces of
darkness.

            Gentlemen
and gentlewomen, are we going to watch as our friends are fired, belittled and
dishonored or are we ready to say “ENOUGH”?

            I
don’t know what you all think. I am getting out for I found no traction in my
2-year efforts to use the web to mobilize my generation of MD Anderson faculty.
It’s not too late for you, even if it is for me.

            It
was just Bastille Day in France. “Allons enfants”. Not children but old men and
old women—let’s go! The inheritors of our past and MD Anderson’s future need us
to act.

            

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.