Our Current RTOGF Communications Interns Discuss Their Experiences So Far: Danielle Cerbon, MD
January 16, 2024
Danielle Cerbon, MD, was selected to be one of two 2023 RTOG Foundation Communications Interns. This position began in July 2023 and will continue through July 2024. Dr. Cerbon is a PGY-4 radiation oncology resident at the University of Miami Sylvester Cancer Center and Jackson Memorial Hospital. She is currently chief resident at her residency program, as well as Chair of the Communications Committee for the Society for Women in Radiation Oncology (SWRO) where she oversees the organization’s social media platforms, website, and blog and helped launch SWRO’s Instagram account as well as produce all of their graphic designs. She is also part of the American College of Radiation Oncology (ACRO) Resident communication subcommittee where she helps with managing their Instagram account. Dr. Cerbon is a member of RTOGF and NRG Oncology and her research focuses on disparities in treatments and outcomes in women’s malignancies, including breast and gynecologic cancers, most recently with a lens on sexual health. Thus far, her academic work has concentrated specifically on disparities in the Black population in South Florida, in which she studied outcome differences in breast and gynecologic cancer between Caribbean and US-born women, as well as their risk factors and genetic variants. She has published several abstracts and articles on these topics. Dr. Cerbon’s ultimate goal is to improve care and equity for female oncology patients, particularly in minority populations.
Q: What do you believe was the most impactful experience you encountered during your internship?
A: I think for me, this would definitely be the experience of having interviewed different people for our monthly newsletter because, since we were able to ask our own questions, I feel like I was then able to really gain a lot of insight and great advice for the future from very successful and wise radiation oncologists. Also, the fact that the interviewees ranged from someone with a long and impactful career like Dr. Walter Curran, to a young investigator like Dr. Benjamin Spieler, really gave me a very broad point of view and in consequence, learned about the best of both career ends.
One thing that remained consistent between my interviews, which I personally found both very impactful and inspiring, was when asking for main pieces of advice for a young physician. One answer that seemed to always coincide was to stay passionate about whatever you decide to pursue in your career. It seems like a very obvious thing, but I think that as we grow personally and professionally, it’s easy to become jaded or swayed by the wrong motivations like money, status, or what others think we should do, instead of staying true to what we love. And I completely agree that in any success story, the one consistent factor present is the passion that the person that succeeded, had for their goals.
Q: What do you plan to bring forward from your internship experience into your career?
A: I think that there is a lot to that can be gained from this internship to then bring forward to my career. The first one being the vast networking experience. Through this position I got to meet many executive committee members of the RTOGF with which I’m sure I will be able to collaborate in the future if the opportunity were to present itself. I was also able to learn a lot about the RTOGF, its members, and also the opportunities they provide for career growth. Additionally, as I mentioned in the first question, the interviews I did for the monthly newsletter definitely gave me a lot of insight and wisdom, which I have no doubt will help me grow and succeed when applied in my career and some of it even in my personal life.
Q: Do you feel like you had the opportunity to connect with mentors and learn about different areas of RTOGF?
A: I really did feel that this experience was very enlightening when it came to learning about different areas of the RTOGF because I don’t think this is always something that is taught during training, particularly if you don’t have mentors that are in any way associated with the RTOGF.
I didn’t just learn about the foundation itself but also being a part of their internship led me to then learn about the funding and career opportunities they offer like the NRG Health Equity Fellowship or the NCORP resources. I think for any trainee that is highly motivated but might not have the mentoring they need, being able to participate with the RTOGF in any way, can be really advantageous for their career.
Q: What advice would you give others who are considering applying for future RTOGF Communications Internship positions?
A: I would say to just go for it! I think one big piece of advice I would give is not to feel intimidated by applying for a position in a prestigious organization like this. By that what I mean is, it can be daunting to think that with this internship you would be working for highly recognized physicians in our field and if you don’t have experience with any communications position, the idea can become intimidating. I would say that even if you have no experience with communications, this is still a really great opportunity for any motivated trainee to do impactful work with our research community. Even though we were only interns, during our meetings, our opinion was always valued, our ideas were taken into consideration, and our work was always validated, which made me feel like I was really helping and making a difference.
So overall, if you come in excited and comfortable, you will be able to just be yourself and get to know a lot of inspiring radiation oncologists and researchers that might share some of their wisdom with you. This will then help with anything you set yourself to do in the future.