MCSMN Blog

July 11, 2019

Cancer Experts–They’re Just Like Us

By Jonathan Martinez

Jonathan Martinez will present "Talk with Docs: Humanizing Faculty Through Video" at the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network 2019 Annual Conference. To learn more from Jonathan and other expert speakers, please join us!

It’s not uncommon in the digital age for us to glance at a restaurant’s Yelp photo gallery before stopping in for lunch, or to give the yoga instructor a quick Google search before we head in to try a class for the first time. These curiosities also exist—and are frankly amplified—in the world of healthcare. Our doctor is someone we will have to share intimate details with, see multiple times if we have a disease like cancer, and ultimately trust with our lives.

Imagine having the opportunity to meet your healthcare provider, or the scientist behind the latest discoveries for your ailment, before your first clinic appointment. You would have the chance to ask them questions about their profession, families, and interests outside of the workplace. Well, you don’t actually have to imagine such an opportunity because there are currently ways in which doctors and researchers at Huntsman Cancer Institute have begun a conversation with patients and the public before ever meeting them.

While the personalities of our faculty and staff are on display when they meet a person one-on-one, we don’t often get to hear their voices and personal stories outside the walls of the institute. The Talks with Docs video series was born at Huntsman Cancer Institute with the intention of ‘humanizing’ cancer professionals. The interviews are modeled as casual, yet insightful, conversations that paint a greater picture of who the selected subject is. We ask them everything from what the future of their medical or research practice is to the activities they enjoy on their days off. You were asked above to imagine meeting your doctor outside of the clinic and this is that very conversation we attempt to provide for the viewer.

Since the series’ inception, we’ve learned one of our neurosurgeons builds hot rods when he’s not removing brain tumors and our comprehensive cancer center director once aspired to be a waitress. While it may seem inconsequential to ask a seasoned professional about his or her life outside of the clinic or lab, the engagement received from patients on social media reminds us time and again the importance of this initiative. When doctors are not too sure about the impact these videos have, we show them the comments grateful members of our community have left for their beloved doctor or cancer researcher. The kinds of exchanges facilitated through this project have yet to be supplanted by any other online channels we have developed.

As we look into the future, our team is actively seeking new ways of translating the world-class care our cancer center provides for the thousands of people who will, for a variety of reasons, search for us on the internet. It is our belief that a person’s interaction with our talented teams often doesn’t begin on our campus; and the sooner you embrace this for your institution, the better you can guide the conversation surrounding it. 

I look forward to presenting at the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network 2019 Annual Conference. In this presentation, I will take you through the steps of creating each Talks with Docs episode, from conception to publication.


Jonathan Martinez is a Visual Communications Specialist at Huntsman Cancer Institute. He received his undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Utah. His interest in visual storytelling, both through photography and video, has helped him collaborate with many on his team to produce content that captures people's diverse experiences surrounding cancer. He's fluent in Spanish, cameras, and has never been to Minnesota.

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One of the presenters at the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network 2019 Annual Conference shares what he's learned by interviewing physicians: #Healthcare #MayoClinic
Jonathan Martinez will present "Talk with Docs: Humanizing Faculty Through Video" at the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network 2019 Annual Conference. Please join us! #Healthcare #Cancer #SocialMedia
How does one go about creating a quality web series, anyway? Join us at the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network 2019 Annual Conference, and this content producer will show you: #Cancer #MayoClinic


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Love it. I have also been a strong advocate fo doming some mor casually videos to help for recruiting – for example one of my the top docs in innovation l leadership on the West Coast is both a woman and a winery owner – wold simply make a killer interview outside at he4 winery…

Now, one thought though – there are Docs who aren’t just like us, and who are very very special – and often they are oncologists. It’s hard to put into words, but I think it stems from their unique approach to walk along the edge of both hope and death, every day, every week, year after year, in one of the most highly emotionally charged situations in medicine. There is even the subset of pediatric oncologists which are even more unique.

Anyway, if you have any type of Actors Studio format, where you ask everyone the same question set, one thing that could be intensely valuable (even if you have to edit it out) is ask every oncologist what their approach to death is.

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