Dr. Janice M. Massey Receives 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award
AANEM’s Lifetime Achievement Award is the highest honor bestowed to a member. The award celebrates a lifetime’s worth of dedication to the field of NM or EDX medicine through teaching, research, or publications. The recipient of the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award has checked all of these boxes over her more than 30 years of service. Janice M. Massey, MD is the second woman in history to receive this prestigious award. She currently serves as the Executive Vice Chair in the Department of Neurology at Duke University Medical Center.
Dr. Massey graduated with her Bachelors of Science with a double major in mathematics and science from Abilene Christian University (ACU) in 1968. Dr. Massey originally had no plan to go onto achieve her masters, let alone her doctorate degree. Instead, her career began as a teacher for Ball High School in Galveston, Texas. She spent three years teaching mathematics while her husband, E. Wayne Massey, MD, attended medical school at the University of Texas (UT).
Dr. Massey had initially thought she would become a stay-at-home mom, but her interest in medicine was piqued in her final semester at ACU during a genetics seminar. With the encouragement of her husband, Dr. Massey chose to pursue graduate school at UT. She studied neurobiology, which led to her interest in medicine. Three months after her husband completed his residency, she began medical school at Georgetown University. In June of 1978, Janice M. Massey received her Medical Doctorate degree.
The Masseys experienced a unique situation in their early years of practice as they both practiced medicine in the field of neurology. “My husband has always been a great partner and a mentor,” says Dr. Massey. “Fortunately, we successfully navigated being married and both pursuing neurology careers at the same institution. Policy would not always allow for a married couple to be in the same department.” Massey was able to complete her residency in neurology at Duke University Medical Center while her husband remained on faculty. She went onto complete her fellowship in electromyography (EMG) and neuromuscular disease (NMD) at Duke as well. In recent years, the university has honored both Masseys with the Janice M. and E. Wayne Massey Conference Room.
Dr. Massey has been awarded numerous honors over the course of her career. Being named the first female Professor of Neurology, with Tenure, at Duke University is her proudest career moment. There were obstacles to overcome for her in this role. When she first started, Duke had no maternity leave. After the adoption of their first child, her husband elected to take a two-week vacation while Dr. Massey continued to work. She then took the next two-week vacation before they were both back to a full-time rotation. Finding childcare for two newly-trained doctors with hectic schedules was no easy task, but they made it work. By the time their next child was in the picture, Duke had established a maternity/paternity leave policy.
Dr. Massey has been cited as an author or co-author on close to 200 abstracts, articles, and invited reviews. She has presented to colleagues across the country and around the world, traveling to places like China, Japan, and Poland to name a few. In 2013, Dr. Massey was named the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation Association’s Doctor of the Year. She was also named AANEM’s Distinguished Physician in the same year. She was the founding director of the ALS/MDA Clinic where she was able to implement new treatments for diseases like myasthenia gravis and cervical dystonia. In a nonprofessional capacity, Dr. Massey has participated in unique challenges such as attending a rattlesnake round-up in Texas to collect venom to make anti-venom and running with the bulls in the south of France at Feria d’Arles.
“I have always enjoyed the hands-on patient care aspect of this field,” Dr. Massey states. “The anatomy and the necessity of logical thinking, in particular, really drove me to pick neurology as my specialty.” The most rewarding part for Dr. Massey has been the opportunity to treat and change patient disease courses.
Dr. Massey has been an active member of AANEM since 1983 when she completed her residency. “I have benefited from the great collaborations and teachings by educators and world experts at the annual meeting and through the printed syllabi,” she said when asked about how AANEM has impacted her career. “I greatly appreciate the collegial spirit and high quality of commitment from my fellow colleagues, in both neurology and physical medicine.”
Dr. Massey has incredible colleagues and mentors to thank including countless NM fellows, technologists, and staff who have become very dear friends. She states many wonderful years of working with exceptional mentors, such as Donald Sanders, MD, has been an incredible part of her outstanding career. “Erik Stahlberg, Michael Aminoff, Royden Jones and Jun Kimura have also been wonderful role models, generous teachers and profound contributors to our knowledge base,” Dr. Massey relays.
For neurologists who are just beginning their career, Dr. Massey’s advice is to “continue to learn, focus on doing your best, believe in yourself, and treat all fairly. Relationships are key to almost all we do. A solid, reasonable salary is nice, but it is not as satisfying as good friendships and an inner sense of doing all one can to help patients.”
Dr. Massey will be presented with the award at the 2021 Annual Meeting in Aurora, Colorado. “I am so excited to be meeting in person once again! I had no idea how much I would miss seeing ‘my people’ in NM medicine.” She states that she is profoundly honored to receive this award.