Paul Letendre, MD – Hematology and Medical Oncology

Paul Letendre, MD – Hematology and Medical Oncology


My name is Paul Letendre, and I’m a medical oncologist/hematologist here at Gundersen in the Cancer Center. My approach as a physician in oncology is kind of threefold. First and foremost is patient care. And with that the care of their loved ones
and family who join with them. Cancer is quite a large, potentially life-altering diagnosis, and most of my daily activity revolves around meeting the needs of patients both in mind,
body and in spirit, however I can help. Each patient has a lot of unknowns, questions, uncertainties that they may have, and so first and foremost it’s
really patient-centered care. Secondly would be education. Providing
education to patients themselves about new therapies, and what’s coming up, what we can and can’t do
as well as education to their family members. Our role as physicians is really to provide
education for our patients and their loved ones and for them to be the ultimate decision makers. Also we have learners and are training
young physicians at the Cancer Center, and so that provides an opportunity for ongoing
learning and to stay relevant and up-to-date. And lastly research, particularly in the
field of oncology and cancer, things are growing very rapidly with new therapeutics coming out on what seems like a weekly basis. And we need to be part of that
and current with everything, and so a key foundation in
research is important as well. I think my favorite part of being a medical
oncologist is the relationships I’ve cultivated. Firstly with patients and their loved ones, this is a journey we go through, oftentimes a life-altering journey. And when patients come in there’s
fear of the unknown and what it is. And it’s very rewarding to be able to
establish a rapport with a patient, get to know them, know where
they’re coming from and their family. And then in an ideal world, years later we get to see them and follow up, and those relationships really grow. I get to see parents watch their kids
graduate or grandparents get to go to their children’s weddings and that’s really impactful. And then of course there’s the interdisciplinary team
and the relationships I’ve made at the hospital. Here at Gundersen we have a whole interdisciplinary team made up of radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, surgeons,
therapists, nurses, pharmacists, and I interact with each of them
on a daily basis with patient care. And so those relationships are very
important to me as well. My decision to go into medicine was actually
a little later than most people. I sustained a pretty significant injury in my early 20s
and ended up being in the hospital for a prolonged time requiring several surgeries. And during that time I was just in awe and mesmerized by how well everyone worked as a team, from nurses to therapists to doctors all communicating and working for the common good which in this case was me. And so I was really drawn and
attracted to that part of medicine. And so since then I’ve always
wanted to be part of the team. I think having been a patient, I do understand
some of the intricacies of what you need. It’s not always oh my foot hurts. Sometimes it’s just knowing the doctor or the nurse
took a minute to listen to you or someone went that extra mile and brought you
something extra that they didn’t need to. Something to read, an extra chocolate milk if you’re thirsty, any of those things. And it’s in the detail as a patient that you really
start to notice how much people care and are truly here as a vocation and in
a desire to help you the patient.

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