Young Professional 2016: Dr. Guy C. Jones
Dr. Guy C. Jones is a radiation oncologist at Tri-Cities Cancer Center, Kennewick
How long have you lived in the Tri-Cities? 15 years
Family: My wife is a teacher in Kennewick. Our parents, our siblings, and our niece and nephews all live in the Tri-Cities.
Tell us about your job/career and how you got into it: I am a fully trained and licensed radiation oncologist and I provide care to cancer patients at the Tri-Cities Cancer Center. I became interested in radiation oncology while growing up in Richland, near the Hanford nuclear site, which was responsible for the production of some of the first radionuclides used in the treatment of cancer. It was through this experience that I learned about radiation’s potential not only to harm, but to heal. It led to my earning a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering and then my medical degree. I underwent my sub-specialty training at the National Cancer Institute in Washington, D.C., before returning home to practice. I was involved in research at the NCI and through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which focused on exploring emerging technologies and new treatment approaches for cancer. This is a passion that I continue to pursue at the cancer center.
Business philosophy: Our center is constantly seeking to find new ways to expand our offerings of both treatment and support for cancer patients. To this end, we have invested in state-of-the-art radiation treatment technology which is on par with the best machines in the world and allows patients to receive world-class care in their own community. We have begun to see patients travel from the West Side of the state to receive radiation here and we have collaborated to provide accommodations to patients who must travel far from home. We always seek feedback from the community to continue to improve and expand our services for our cancer patients and their families. We aim for the cancer center to be a place of hope, compassion and support for our community.
Life philosophy: It is always my goal to leave each and every situation, and ultimately the world, a better place than I found it. As a husband, son and brother, I seek to do this through loyalty and loving support. As a physician, I aspire to be a reliable and supporting healer and ensure my patients never feel alone. As a community member, I am passionate about taking action to serve and educate throughout the Tri-Cities while inspiring others to do so as well.
Community involvement/community service: Since returning to the Tri-Cities, I have served as a volunteer for several organizations. I have led several career education sessions at Delta High School where I spoke about medical career opportunities. I have also served as a mock interviewer for Delta High senior classes. I have served as a volunteer for the Tri-Cities Cancer Center where I have planned and participated in community health fairs and screenings and provided free community educational sessions. Through my participation in Rotoract, I helped organize and participate in volunteer efforts at the Second Harvest Food Bank where we sorted vegetables for donation to local families. With Rotaract, I am also involved in other philanthropic work with groups in our community such as the CHIVERS. I am an adjunct faculty member at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences, where I mentor medical students both in my clinic and through classroom lectures. This summer, I advised a research intern at the cancer center who published the results of our lung cancer screening program, which is the largest community lung cancer screening program in the country. As a member of Leadership Tri-Cities Class XXII, I look forward to embarking on a major class project that will focus on enhancing the lives of a group in our community.
Who were your mentors and what did they teach you? I consider my dad, my wife, and my best friend the greatest mentors of my life. My dad was principled and ambitious and showed me the value of education, personal goals and resiliency. He gave me the finest example of a father one could ever ask for and wasn’t afraid to challenge my ideas and beliefs. My wife, an artist and a musician, taught me to appreciate everything that I have and helped me to develop balance between my work and my social life. My best friend, Chris, is a veteran of Iraq who selflessly and faithfully served his country over two tours of duty. He taught me the meaning of commitment and personal sacrifice and how to recognize even bad experiences as opportunities for growth.
Toughest business/career decision you had to make or obstacle you had to overcome? In 2005, I was completing my bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering at WSU. Having spent the prior summer as an intern working in a semiconductor fabrication plant, I was offered a generous contract to return to the same company after graduation. At the same time, I had also been accepted into medical school. The choice between launching my career with a high-paying job in my early 20s versus committing to a minimum of seven more years of schooling and adding tremendous educational debt was very difficult. Ultimately, I chose to pursue medicine and I have never looked back.
First job: My first job was as a dishwasher at the Hanford House Restaurant at the Red Lion Inn in Richland. This was a fast-paced and physically demanding job and I was balancing full-time college work through CBC at the same time. This job taught me how to multi-task and work as a team, and it is every bit as relevant to my current work in the clinic as it was at that time. Like the clinic, the kitchen had people of all aptitudes and it was important to recognize each team member’s strengths to accomplish our collective goals. Assigning each task and clearly communicating everyone’s role was important to ensure a smooth and efficient work environment.
What do you like most about what you do? I love caring for patients. It’s what I spend my entire workday doing and it’s also how I spend the majority of my time outside of work. Each patient and each case is unique, so every new case presents a challenge and a puzzle that must be solved. Helping patients is the greatest feeling for me and I am privileged to be doing this in my hometown. I also love to share my knowledge through teaching and mentoring health care providers in training, which I hope will lead to even better care in the future.
Least? Losing a patient is by far the hardest part of my job. I develop an emotional attachment with my patients and when they pass, I grieve for the patient and their loved ones. It can also be hard not to take it as a personal and professional failure.
What thing would people be most surprised to learn about you? I was adopted as a child by a wonderful family in Richland.