Navigating Her Own Journey to Hematology
"ASH has also played a huge role in my leadership development. Starting with the Ambassador Program, I have found my niche. That was a springboard for many roles including participation in the MEI program, Subcommittee for Training, and chair of the HONORS Award Study Section and Women in Hematology group."
After travelling the world, working in finance, and attending performing arts school, Dr. Tamara Dunn finds her own path to becoming a doctor.
Born in Kansas City, Dr. Dunn grew up wanting to be doctor. What she didn’t know, however, was that it would take her nearly six years after her undergraduate studies to start medical school. But living in New York City and Paris during that time presented too many exciting adventures to be left unexplored. She attended performing art school and worked in finance. She got married and travelled the world with her husband. An avid dancer, singer, and tennis player Dr. Dunn found herself gravitating toward Hematology during the very beginning, from pathology class: “I was excited to read the heme chapter and loved looking at smears under the microscope,” she recalls.
When she began her internal medicine residency at Stanford, she had no doubt that she wanted to pursue a fellowship in Hematology. Back then, she focused her career on multiple myeloma research, ALL and AYA. More recently, her career has pivoted toward more work in diversity, equity, and inclusion and medical education, serving as the Associate Chair for the Department of Medicine and the Program Director for the Hematology Fellowship at Stanford. “My pathway to leadership has been shaped by participation in programs that have allowed me to develop my leadership skills and give me belief in my belonging at table. One program at Stanford that has played an integral role in my development is the Leadership Education for Advancing Diversity (LEAD) program. ASH has also played a huge role in my leadership development. Starting with the Ambassador Program, I have found my niche. That was a springboard for many roles including participation in the MEI program, Subcommittee for Training, and chair of the HONORS Award Study Section and Women in Hematology group. It gave me an opportunity to focus efforts on recruiting and retaining those who are underrepresented in medicine to the field of hematology and spearheaded my seeing a path forward for a career focused on DEI,” Dr. Dunn explains.
With a particular interest in improving workforce diversity and building cultures of inclusivity, Dr. Dunn is committed to creating programming that educates the academic community with the ultimate goal of improving health equity. The importance of finding joy in one’s career and personal life is not only part of her work, but also a value she embodies at every level. “Sometimes, it's not obvious how your career is going to materialize,” she says, “and that's ok. It's ok to explore because ultimately, you need to be happy with how you spend your time. My advice to those coming up behind me would be to be patient and find your niche. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and seek out mentors who will support your career and lift you up. Your wellness is important”, she says. “Lastly, don’t be intimidated by career pivots or missteps and don’t compare yourself to others. Your journey is unique!”
While Dr. Dunn has reached her career destination, she continues to support and encourage participation in the ASH Minority Recruitment Initiative (MRI) programs. For many trainees, seeing her position is inspiring. For Dr. Dunn, hearing them express that sentiment, is “truly one of the best feelings in the world.”
ASH remains committed to building and nurturing a global hematology community and workforce inclusive of diverse perspectives, talents, and experiences. Learn more.