PEOPLE [AMC In(人)sight] From the Beginning to the End, with a Wishful Heart 2024.03.14

Professor Ju-Hyun Kim of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology


Professor Ju-Hyun Kim of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Asan Medical Center

▲ Professor Ju-Hyun Kim is performing a laparoscopic surgery.


Whenever Professor Ju-Hyun Kim meets patients in the doctor’s office or operating room, she asks herself, ‘How would I treat the patient if she were my mom?’ This is to uphold her own principles of providing treatment that she would not be ashamed of in any person’s eyes. Specializing in gynecologic oncology, Professor Kim walks the path of an obstetrician-gynecologist guided by the optimistic belief that good results will follow from doing her utmost and the solid principles that support her belief.


Taking Responsibility to the End

Professor Kim’s decision to pursue obstetrics and gynecology was greatly influenced by her father, who had previously walked the same path. While it started out as a desire to be recognized by her respected father, her sense of vocation and responsibility grew as she met more patients and spent more time in the operating room. “When treating gynecologic cancer patients, I handle the entire process, from diagnosis and surgery to chemotherapy and even end-of-life care if the disease is not controlled despite my best efforts. What I found meaningful in obstetrics and gynecology is that I take responsibility from the moment I meet them in the doctor’s office until the last moment, going through difficult times of surgery and chemotherapy together. Of course, I should rightfully bear the kind of weight resulting from the process as a doctor.


There has been a patient who has been with Professor Kim since her residency. She was a college friend of her. The patient was diagnosed with cervical cancer at the age of 29, and Professor Kim went into the operating room with Professor Dae-Yeon Kim of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, her teacher and mentor, as he performed the surgery. Later, her friend underwent chemotherapy and fertility preservation treatment, preserving the uterus, which helped her give birth to a healthy baby boy. When her friend visits the hospital with her son, already five years old, she is filled with emotions. “In obstetrics and gynecology, you experience birth and death simultaneously. You can hear babies crying in the delivery room on the 6th floor of the New Building, whereas gynecologic cancer patients may be pronounced dead just upstairs in Ward 76. I am probably more desperate than others to do my best because I am deeply involved from birth to death.”


Things Made Possible Through Collaboration일

Ovarian cancer can metastasize not only to the ovaries and uterus but also to anywhere in the abdomen, including the colon, bladder, liver, and lungs. By removing as much of the tumor that has spread into the abdominal cavity through surgery followed by chemotherapy, survival rates can be increased. For this reason, it is crucial to collaborate with medical professionals from other departments and divisions, such as Urology, Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery, Thoracic & Cardiovascular Surgery, and Colon and Rectal Surgery. “I once performed surgery for ovarian cancer with extensive metastasis with doctors from six different departments in the operating room. The disease requires more than my skills to be treated. I am grateful that AMC is well-equipped to provide the best care for patients. The medical staff responsible for postoperative nursing, examination, and chemotherapy are also of the highest level. I don’t think there are many hospitals worldwide with such a well-established multidisciplinary system.”


Having many opportunities for research to find optimal treatment methods is also empowering. Recently, Professor Kim won an award at the Korean Gynecologic Cancer Research’s academic conference for the research on ‘Proteomic Signatures for Early Ovarian Cancer in BRCA (BReast CAncer gene)-mutated patients,’ which was conducted with Professor Shin-Wha Lee of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Professor Kyunggon Kim of the Department of Convergence Medicine. “Now, I am conducting research on neuronal tumors in cervical cancer. I have also received a joint research proposal from Professor Frumovitz of MD Anderson Cancer Center in the United States. I aspire to do well in clinical trials and basic research to help patients in the future.”


To Repay the Trust

The patient’s trust and confidence that the doctor will provide suitable treatment motivate one another. Professor Kim brings a wishful heart in treating patients who come to her with trust so they can return to their daily activities. “I remember a patient I met in my mid-30s who had ovarian cancer and had undergone surgery. Later, she told me she came to me not because I was a skilled doctor already but because I would become one in the future. I think her words were to convey encouragement and trust to a relatively young-looking doctor. I believe repaying patients’ trust is also part of my role.”