With last month’s American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual conference in the rearview mirror, Ghulam Rehman “Manni” Mohyuddin, MD, a young medical oncologist who reaches out to colleagues via social media, hopes his efforts to support and inspire trainees at ASH 2023 will help propel them forward in their chosen field of medicine.
Ahead of the conference held in San Diego in December, Dr. Mohyuddin, a blood cancer specialist with a focus on multiple myeloma and medical education, put out a heartfelt appeal on X (formerly Twitter): “If you’re a trainee and interested in meeting me at #ASH23, please reach out … (especially if [international medical graduate]) I’d love to meet and offer support in whatever capacity I can! I can’t have a research project for each one of you, but happy to help/mentor in any other way possible,” he posted on X back in late November.
An international medical graduate himself, Dr. Mohyuddin recalls how overwhelmed he felt when he first attended an annual ASH conference as a trainee, so he aims to reassure others that they “don’t have to know everything.”
“It’s about networking and broadening horizons,” he said in an interview that took place between ASH sessions, his own research presentations, and meetings with the many trainees who took him up on the offer he made via X. “I’ve spent most of this ASH meeting trainees — it’s the most rewarding thing for me at these meetings.
“Reassurance is a lot of what we do in oncology,” he continued, drawing a connection between his affinity for helping trainees and providing compassionate care to patients. “For an oncologist, the single most important thing is having excellent communication skills and being able to express support and empathy. The ability to connect deeply with your patients during their time of need is profoundly important.
“You can compensate for lack of knowledge, because we have so many other sources of support for knowledge, but you simply cannot compensate for poor communication skills, and your patient suffers as a result,” he said.
In addition to the guidance he received from mentors, Dr. Mohyuddin noted that it was the chance to build supportive, empathetic relationships that drew him to specialize in blood cancer and, in particular, to caring for patients with multiple myeloma and conducting research focused on improving the patient experience.
Dr. Mohyuddin attended medical school at the Aga Khan University in Pakistan, then completed his internal medicine residency and fellowship at the University of Kansas in Kansas City. As a chief resident there, he focused on novel approaches to education delivery and improving access to research for trainees. As a fellow, he developed clinical and research interests in multiple myeloma, which he describes as an “incredibly rewarding field” marked by “truly spectacular advances over the last two decades.”
“There are some cancers you can cure, which means you don’t get to see patients often, and there are some you can’t cure, where patients die early, and there’s not a lot of time to build a relationship,” he said. “But there are some where patients can do well even though they aren’t currently cured, and you get to form really amazing and meaningful relationships over a long period of time.
“Multiple myeloma occupies that space, and that’s why I’m drawn to it,” Dr. Mohyuddin added, noting that he doesn’t shy away from forging emotional connections with patients. “I recognize that makes me vulnerable, but I think that is essentially what your patients deserve from you — to be invested at an emotional level with them through their suffering.”
Improving Value and the Patient Experience
“One thing, philosophically, that I research is value in multiple myeloma care: identifying areas where we are overtreating patients and where we can do less and get away with it,” he said.
Despite the major advances in multiple myeloma in recent years, which “represent a lot of what is going right with oncology,” this blood cancer still “also represents a lot of what is wrong with oncology,” he noted. As an example, he cited “the approval of low-value drugs, the sequencing of drugs, adding more and more drugs without responsibly addressing quality-of-life questions, and identifying more responsible ways to provide high-value efficacious care without bankrupting the economy.
“So my research and policy work apply to that,” he explained. “What can we do better? What sort of trials should we be doing? What populations do we enroll? Are we asking the right questions or looking at trivialities? Are we serving patients foremost?”
Sometimes, this means comparing multiple myeloma staging systems in a real-world cohort, or assessing whether a widely available, cheap, and safe drug like budesonide can help patients avoid diarrhea during chemotherapy, whether control arms in myeloma randomized trials are fair, whether drugs ever get approved in low- or middle-income countries after their approval in the United States, and whether smoldering myeloma, a multiple myeloma precursor, really requires treatment, as current guidelines suggest, or if patients would do just as well — or perhaps better — with a close surveillance protocol.
“Pharma won’t do those studies and many key opinion leaders feel the question [about whether smoldering myeloma needs to be treated] has already been answered, so we are launching a prospective study that will define the natural history of smoldering myeloma and allow for patients to stay off therapy while undergoing rigorous surveillance with imaging,” he said.
Another study Dr. Mohyuddin hopes to launch soon will look at a “start low, go slow” treatment approach for the frailest patients with newly diagnosed myeloma.
His upbringing in Pakistan, where there are “mind-boggling” differences in health care access, affordability, and outcomes when compared with the United States, provided a foundation for both his “enthusiasm for cost-effective care” and his desire to give back, he said.
Another aspect of life in Pakistan — an across-the-board sense of closeness and solidarity in families and communities that is sometimes lacking in the United States — contributed to his desire to build relationships.
“That is something I dearly miss,” he said. “I am very privileged and so thankful to be here in the US, but that is one thing I do deeply miss.”
Connecting and Making a Difference
Dr. Mohyuddin seeks connection through his relationships with patients, trainees, and his many followers on social media platforms like X, where he frequently shares his thoughts on research quality and findings, heme/onc trends, and treatment-related insight.
“How to treat myeloma after #ASH23,” he posted on X as the conference came to a close. His takeaways: Don’t treat smoldering myeloma, do quadruple therapy for transplant-eligible patients (but no cd38 maintenance therapy afterward), don’t do quads for carfilzomib in newly diagnosed frail or older patients, and don’t do a salvage autologous transplant, no matter how good the first transplant was.
Dr. Mohyuddin also works to make a difference through his research and involvement in helping to launch initiatives like Common Sense Oncology, an ambitious global effort to reform cancer clinical trials and care, and through a current project with colleagues in India and Pakistan to create a consortium for pooling data on hematologic malignancies from South Asian countries. The hope is that such a collaborative effort will lead to good prospective research relevant to the needs of participating countries, he explained.
“Those are things where I want to make a difference. Taking care of patients is number one, but more than research, the number two thing for me is teaching and hopefully inspiring trainees and others to think differently, to look at data differently,” he said, noting that despite the major advances in myeloma, the reality is that “a lot of what we offer in oncology is very marginal.”
The effect sizes of interventions are often very small, and outcomes can still be really bad, he explained, adding that “[i]t really hits you when you see a lot of death and suffering. It’s a huge wake-up call … we have so many advances, but the reality is very, very sobering.
“Critically understanding and interpreting data is something where education really fails us. I’m incredibly passionate about it. I’ve found great resources to help me interpret data better, and I want to make them more accessible and inspire others to understand better,” he said. “We need to know how to defend ourselves from the hype.”
His efforts have not gone unnoticed. Dr. Mohyuddin was the recipient of the 2023 Hematology and Medical Oncology Fellowship Faculty Teaching Award at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, where he is currently a faculty member.
“The recognition means more than any publication or grant award,” he said. “It’s great to know that medical education is appreciated, because so often we are in a rat race of getting more papers and grants out, but teaching and inspiring people is what is really, really important to me.”
This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.
Source link : https://www.medscape.com/s/viewarticle/young-myeloma-specialist-forges-ahead-gives-back-2024a10001vw?src=rss
Publish date : 2024-01-26 13:49:46
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