Allan Tsung, MD, joined the School of Medicine as the chair of the Department of Surgery in June 2022. He came to UVA from The Ohio State University College of Medicine, where he served as professor and chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology in the Department of Surgery. Dr. Tsung earned his medical degree from the SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn, then completed his residency in surgery and a fellowship in hepatobiliary and pancreas surgery at the University of Pittsburgh. He specializes in evaluating and caring for patients with liver, bile duct and pancreas cancers and is an expert in laparoscopic and robotic surgery
We recently talked with Dr. Tsung about why he chose UVA School of Medicine, why he became a doctor, and much more.
Q. Why did you choose the UVA School of Medicine Department of Surgery?
A. I have always respected the words of Sir Issac Newton: “I can see much farther by standing on the shoulders of giants.” This was one of UVA’s strengths that attracted me — to have the opportunity to learn from current giants in surgery as well as be part of the continuing legacy of UVA as a key contributor to the advancement of medicine.
Q. Why academic medicine?
A. Academic medicine allows me to be both a surgeon and scientist. As a surgeon, I know what questions need to be answered to better treat our patients, and as a scientist, I can study and gain new knowledge needed to answer those questions.
Q. What inspired you to become a doctor/provider?
A. My father. He was a doctor and my favorite pastime as a kid was going to the hospital with him on the weekends to have hospital cafeteria food. It was one of the few places I could eat non-Chinese food when young!
Q. Why did you choose your specialty?
A. As a teenager, I lost my father to cancer. The treatments at the time were unable to cure him of his disease and that was unacceptable to me. This driving force has fueled my career in surgical oncology to always look for novel and personalized treatment options for all my patients who are battling cancer.
Q. What’s the most exciting thing happening in your field right now?
A. We are only starting to understand that despite how skilled a surgeon is or how high the quality of care delivered by the entire care team and hospital, socio-demographic and unconscious bias play a role in adverse outcomes. Therefore, it is exciting that we are actively working to incorporate these factors into our care, which will ultimately help reduce barriers in access to high quality care for all patients.
Q. What are some goals you would like to achieve during your time at UVA SOM?
A. I would like to create an environment in the department that allows for continuous growth, access to learning and career advancement, work towards equity in the treatments for all our patients, and map all the back elevators and staircases to get from my office to the hospital.
Q. What’s your favorite part of your job?
A. The best part of my job is meeting and collaborating with diverse people from all around the School of Medicine and Medical Center. The strong “team” mentality here at UVA is incredible; everyone is truly willing to work together for the advancement of patient care.
Q. What is one thing you wish your patients or co-workers knew about you before they met you?
A. I will constantly challenge others because I enjoy seeing people grow and succeed.
Q. If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
A. Don’t ask “Why can’t we do better?” but “How can I help to do better?”
Q. How do you spend your time away from work? Hobbies?
A. Spending time with my family, traveling, eating good food, exercising so I can continue eating good food.
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