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Member Spotlight – Julie Silver, MD

Julie K. Silver, MD
Associate Professor
Associate Chair
Director of Cancer Rehabilitation
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Harvard Medical School & Spaulding Rehabilitation Network

Tell us about your work.

Julie Silver, MD is an Associate Professor, Associate Chair and Director of Cancer Rehabilitation in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School and the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network. Dr. Silver has been an integral part of developing the new Spaulding Research Institute—from conception to launch. Dr. Silver’s own research and clinical work has focused on improving gaps in the delivery of healthcare services, particularly cancer rehabilitation. She has published many scientific reports and is well-known for her ground-breaking work on “impairment-driven cancer rehabilitation” which was initially published in the journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians–a high impact factor oncology journal that is published by the American Cancer Society. Impairment-driven cancer rehabilitation was subsequently incorporated into the American Cancer Society’s Facts & Figures. Dr. Silver co-founded the Cancer Rehabilitation Group for the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine—a research focused interdisciplinary professional society. She is committed to improving healthcare for oncology patients and developed a best practices model for cancer rehabilitation care that hundreds of U.S. hospitals adopted. Dr. Silver is also committed to supporting the healthcare workforce, and she is a researcher and nationally recognized expert on inclusion, diversity and equity. Her work has been published in many high impact journals including the New England Journal of Medicine and JAMA network journals. Dr. Silver has also written and edited numerous books including a standard textbook used in the field of rehabilitation medicine titled the Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, now in its 4th edition with multiple international translations. Formerly, she was the Chief Editor of Books for Harvard Health Publications—the official publishing division for Harvard Medical School. She currently directs two annual 3-day CME courses at Harvard Medical School: “Career Advancement and Leadership Skills for Women in Healthcare” and “Writing, Publishing and Social Media for Healthcare Professionals”. Her work has been recognized by the American Cancer Society (Lane Adams Quality of Life Award), Massachusetts General Hospital (The One Hundred) and The Boston Globe (Top Innovator in Medicine) and Partners Healthcare (Outstanding Mentor Award). Dr. Silver is currently affiliated with several Harvard teaching hospitals including Spaulding Rehabilitation, Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s Hospitals. Her work has been featured in many media outlets including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, The LA Times, USA Today, The London Times and NPR. She has also appeared on numerous TV shows including the Discovery Channel, CBS Early Show, The Today Show, Fox News, ABC News and Dr. Oz.

Julie Silver, MD speaking at the Harvard Medical School’s Continuing Medical Education Writers’ Conference, 04/11/2008
© 2008 President and Fellows of Harvard College on behalf of HMS Media Services, Photo by Liza Green, All Rights Reserved

What helped you get there?

Although academic medicine can be challenging, I love the mix of clinical care, medical education and research. I think being able to focus on different areas that I am passionate about helps to avoid symptoms of burnout. Over time, I moved away from some of the things that I focused on early in my career in order to make room for new opportunities.

Have there been any interests that you have continued to pursue outside of medicine? Have you been able to combine these with your medical career?

I have spent most of my non-work time with my husband and three kids. I have often taken my children with me on trips to give talks, and that has been a tremendous learning experience for them as well as a time for us to bond. Even though technically I was working, we had a lot of fun adventures!

What advice do you have for students?

One of the most important things that I encourage medical student and early career physicians to do is to invest in themselves. Although I realize that they are already doing this and their educational debt may be high, it is worthwhile thinking about investing early in one’s career on things such as leadership or other specialized training courses, medical society memberships and events that enhance knowledge and professional connections, etc. If you wait for the organizations you work for to pay for everything you would like to do professionally you may miss out on a lot. So, invest in yourself throughout your career!

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