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Stars of Stanford Medicine: Avid runner and accessible health care advocate

Alan Thong, MD, is working to ensure top medical care is more widely available. And he's a runner. He shares his story in this Stars of Stanford Q&A.

Alan Thong, MD, a Stanford clinical assistant professor of urology, is often found in the South Bay or East Bay, focusing on expanding access to Stanford's comprehensive urological care. I caught up with him to learn more.

What is most fulfilling about your work?

What’s most fulfilling is seeing patients through the whole process of diagnosis, treatment discussion, treatment, aftercare and recovery. It’s very rewarding to be a part of that with patients and their families.

What is most frustrating ?

The most frustrating aspect of our American health care system is providing access to high-quality, yet cost-efficient care.

What is your career goal?

It's to make the health care experience at Stanford more patient-centered. I think that in the time we have grown Stanford's new East and South Bay offices, patients are very appreciative that there is local access to Stanford physician expertise, clinic visits and testing closer to home, while reserving travel to the main campus for major surgery, multidisciplinary care or clinical trials.

What draws you to urology?

I think as urologists, we really develop close relationships to our patients because of the unique and sensitive speciality matter — often urinary and sexual function-related. Also, it is a very small field so we tend to develop lasting working and personal relationships with colleagues, not just here at Stanford but across the country.

How do you unwind?

I like to run. I run for fun and I race. I usually like to run after work, even if it has been a long day in the clinic or operating room.

What do your colleagues not know about you?

I think a lot of folks at work don't know that I also like to hike, camp and rock climb — aside from running.

How do you prepare for work?

Great coffee is the start to my weekdays and weekends. Then I usually clear out my inbasket before clinic or operating. When I'm in the operating room, one thing I do to stay relaxed and focused is listen to music.

What kind?

I like to put on something upbeat such as global pop or R&B. Anything else too upbeat and usually it'll drive someone nuts.

Do you have a role model?

Yes. I still emulate what I learned from my mentors in training at Stanford in the way that I talk to patients, in the way that I work with colleagues, and in the way that I operate. I'm very proud of the fact that they taught me to do things the way that I do them now and have entrusted me to continue that tradition here at Stanford.

Stars of Stanford Medicine introduces readers to standout scholars in the School of Medicine.

Previously: Stars of Stanford Medicine: Amplifying signals to detect cancer early, Stars of Stanford Medicine: "Are people getting the right care?" and Stars of Stanford Medicine: "It's my duty to give back"  
Photo by Alyssa Tamboura

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