By Kathy Day
As an undergraduate at UCLA, Ray Lin studied psychobiology because it was a little bit neurology, a little bit biology and a little bit psychology.
“It combined the mind, body and spirit,” said the radiation oncologist who is the medical director of the new Scripps Radiation Therapy Center and is still focusing on those three elements of life.
He specialized in radiation oncology for three main reasons, he said in a recent interview:
• “You really get to know your patients. They come in every day for six to seven weeks and you see them every single day,” he said, adding that in other specialties you may see an individual once every six months or even less frequently.
• “It’s so high tech … radiation oncologists love their toys.”
• And, “I love oncology.”
With cancer set to overtake heart disease as the most common cause of death, he said, he wants to be able to help fight “this devastating disease that affects every family in some way.”
After graduating from UCLA, he attended Loyola University of Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine before returning to Southern California where he interned at UCLA and did his residency at Loma Linda University Medical Center.
That’s where he stayed until 2001 when he moved to Scripps Clinic/Green Hospital. When he followed his boss at Loma Linda, Huan Jiap, M.D., to Scripps, he began work in brachytherapy — placing radiation inside the body — in cardiovascular disease. His specialties include breast, lung and gastrointestinal cancers.
“I’ve always liked things that were a little different,” the cheerful 44-year-old said.
And being responsible for the new Radiation Therapy Center, which unites the radiation oncology services for Scripps Green Hospital and Scripps Memorial La Jolla, is another one of those different things he’s tackled.
Now that it’s open — the first patients were treated in mid-September, with Memorial’s program set to be fully relocated by this week and Scripps Green’s by late November — he’s responsible for its day-to-day operation. In addition, he oversees administration and is a liaison for the staff, physician and administrators. During the planning stages, he had input on design and functionality and with selecting equipment and quality assurance.
“I never knew how to read a blueprint,” Lin said. But since “radiation oncologists think in 3-D terms” and he had a lot of help he made it through, helping out by talking about how patients flowed through the office from check-in to the sizes of the dressing rooms.
The process included weekly meetings over the past two years with representatives from the two programs, including nurses, physicians and the physicists. Through that process, he noted, they selected the best practices and protocols so they could standardize treatments.
Patients also had a say in the design through a series of focus groups that helped the team understand what worked for them and what didn’t.
“We had to get everybody to work together,” he said, noting Scripps Health’s evolution to “one Scripps with specialty centers” throughout the county. “It’s not cost effective to have radiation oncology at every site; it’s more cost effective to have one great [center] than to have three mediocre [centers].”