David Kerr's 8-Year-Old Daughter Interviews Him About Life as a Cancer Doctor

David J. Kerr, CBE, MD, DSc, FRCP, FMedSci


February 01, 2019

David Kerr, MD: Hello. I'm David Kerr, professor of cancer medicine, and today I'm going to be interviewed, surprisingly, by my 8-year-old daughter, Solace. Let me introduce Solace Kerr.

Solace Kerr: Hello.

Dr Kerr: Solace, shoot. What do you want to ask?

Miss Kerr: What do you talk about in your MDT?

Dr Kerr: "MDT" means multidisciplinary team. We believe that if we are talking about patients, having many heads [together] with lots of experience gives us a better opinion for taking care of patients. Like they say, many hands make light work. We talk about the patient; we bring all of the experts together and we come up with the best advice. Think about a team working together.

Miss Kerr: Please, could you tell me if you have the best teammates?

Dr Kerr: That's a good question. We have our surgeon colleagues. We have our colleagues who are radiotherapy experts. Pathology colleagues are very good at looking down the microscope and describing the tumor to us. Radiologist colleagues are the ones that take images and x-rays that we interpret. When we all come together, we can come up with the best plan for the individual patient. They are all really good teammates.

Miss Kerr: Do you have one on every patient?

Dr Kerr: We do. In the United Kingdom, every single new patient is discussed by the MDT, [no matter what type of cancer they have].

Miss Kerr: Do you do the MDT once or twice?

Dr Kerr: I do two MDTs every week. We do a bowel cancer MDT on Monday mornings and a hepatobiliary cancer MDT on Friday afternoons after clinic. Hepatobiliary cancer is a big, long, fancy name for liver cancer.

Miss Kerr: Is Friday your busiest day?

Dr Kerr: It's my busiest, but it's my happiest. It's clinic day, so that is when we work together to look after the patients and to see them. I enjoy it. It's a really good day.

Miss Kerr: How many rooms do you work in? Do you have one room to work in?

Dr Kerr: There are three consultants in the clinic and two junior doctors, so we have five rooms. That means that we can see lots of patients. We usually see 30 or 40 patients in the clinic, so we are all working at the same time, and working very, very hard.

Miss Kerr: You are not working on the same patient?

Dr Kerr: No. We all see different patients, but the young doctors can come speak to me if they want advice or help with somebody. It's an opportunity for us to be able to talk things through. That's how it works in medicine.

Miss Kerr: Do you ever get time on Friday to have a break to work on your computer or anything?

Dr Kerr: Not really, because when we finish clinic, which is always late, we go into our MDT meeting. We usually grab a sandwich, and we are actually a bit rude, but we eat our sandwiches while we are at the MDT meeting.

Miss Kerr: Do you wear a white coat?

Dr Kerr: No, I don't. I wish I would. I loved wearing a white coat when I was a young doctor, and I miss them. Now, to reduce infections and so on, I roll up my sleeves, take off my watch, and take off my tie.

Miss Kerr: In our school, our teacher wears a white coat when we do a science experiment.

Dr Kerr: I'm jealous of her.

Miss Kerr: She is not even a doctor.

Dr Kerr: She is a good teacher. When I was a young doctor, I used to use a white coat, and I carried my stethoscope and my books and all my bits and bobs in it, and I miss that.

Miss Kerr: Did you put your "heart-thing" in it?

Dr Kerr: That is called a stethoscope. That is what we use to listen to the chest and things like that.

Miss Kerr: We can hear Jim Bob.

Dr Kerr: Jim Bob is Solace's little brother.

Miss Kerr: He stamps. He shouts.

Dr Kerr: He stamps and shouts, but you love him, don't you?

Miss Kerr: Yes.

Dr Kerr: Any other questions before we say bye-bye to the Medscapers?

Miss Kerr: Please give us good comments. Last time, Daddy only got 15 comments. Bye.

Dr Kerr: Thank you, Miss Solace Kerr, for that insightful interview in which we learned a lot about the workings of multidisciplinary teams. We learned that Daddy does not have lunch on Friday, but he just grabs a sandwich to go to the MDT, and he mourns the passing of white coats. Medscapers, thanks for listening. Bye-bye.


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