Jonathan J. Chen, MD, PhD
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
University of Washington School of Medicine
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Many people arrive at their first appointment feeling anxious and unsure what to expect. It’s heartening to see the transformation they go through over the course of the visit.”
Why did you decide to become a doctor?
A mentor in college actually discouraged me from becoming a doctor. She said it required so many sacrifices that I should only do it if I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. So, for a few years, I pursued a career in biotech. While working at my first job after college, I volunteered at a free STD clinic at the local hospital. There, I witnessed the impact that doctors could make — and that clinched it for me. I realized that I truly couldn’t see myself doing anything else. The next thing I knew, I was applying to medical school.
I am a board-certified radiation oncologist who specializes in caring for patients with ocular melanoma, the most common type of eye tumor, and genitourinary cancers (GU), which affect the urinary tract and male reproductive system. My expertise includes using proton therapy, a type of targeted radiation therapy that minimizes radiation exposure to healthy tissue. At UW Medicine, I research ways to improve treatments for GU cancers, such as prostate cancer, as well as ocular melanoma. Prior to joining SCCA, I completed a PhD in pharmacology and served as chief resident at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
What is your approach to care?
I strive to live my life by the Golden Rule, and the same applies to the way I approach being a physician. If I were a patient, how would I want to be treated? How would I want to be spoken to? What things would I appreciate? I try to treat each person with compassion and patience, offering the personal attention that I would want a doctor to give me or my family. My favorite memories of interactions with patients are often initial consultations. Many people arrive at that first appointment feeling anxious, scared and uncertain. It’s heartening to see the transformation they go through over the course of the visit.