Education, our motivating force

I cannot speak for all physicians, but I think that no matter how many years it has been, it is easy to be reminded of the equal measures of excitement and nervousness that came with our own Match Day. Before most of us even finish medical school, we are already putting our hopes into that next step in a long journey. Many start that journey as young teens, continuing through undergraduate years and then into post-graduate medical school. Although there are many paths to Match Day, that one moment for any soon-to-be physician can be quite nerve-wracking. So, first of all, to this year’s Carver College of Medicine graduates, congratulations on getting past that hurdle and best wishes for your next step. It is always gratifying to see such a high number choosing primary care and especially internal medicine for specialty training. We are obviously a bit biased, but we like to think that our medical students’ experience with us during inpatient and outpatient clerkships must have lit a spark or perhaps fanned an already existing one. We can see that in the feedback these students provide us after their rotations. Here are some of the most recent ones.

On our side of the Match Day process, there is also much to be proud of. (The process, despite what our Chief Residents’ satirical and celebratory video depicts, has become a well-oiled machine.) Our first hope is always to fill all our open slots and we have filled every single slot every year for more than the last two decades. Congratulations to everyone who contributed to that first and very important achievement. Right on the heels of that hope is our goal of filling that match with the best candidates we can. The word “best” is rather subjective, and a long list of characteristics and qualities defines a desirable candidate for us. Quantitative measures like number of publications, honors society memberships, and grades are helpful, but they do not necessarily reveal who might most benefit from our program or who might best help us grow as well. Plenty of emphasis gets placed on the interviews themselves. Not only do we want to show them who we are, we also want to find out what drives them. How do they respond to challenges or when they are foiled in pursuit of a goal? How do they define compassionate care? How do they recognize and counteract the influence of unconscious bias in patient and colleague interactions? What are their long-term goals? What role does curiosity and collaboration play in their lives and in their work? One only has to get to know our current residency cohorts to find the shared commonalities and the kinds of answers we hope to hear. And, as we all meet this new cohort of recruits, it is likely we will find that as diverse as this class is, the similarities in philosophy will also ensure our program’s continued strength.

Our department does not only take the recruitment of residents and fellows seriously. We are also deeply invested in the recruitment of medical students. Above you can see that 25 of our faculty members spent nearly 150 hours interviewing 219 applicants! And three more of our faculty members served on the Carver College of Medicine’s Admissions Committee this year, reviewing applications, interviewing candidates, and attending more than a few meetings to ensure alignment with collegiate standards. Drs. Samantha Solimeo, Yolanda Villalvazo, and William Zeitler each contributed more than 90 hours a piece to this valuable work. As Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education Chris Cooper described it to me, “This time commitment far exceeds that of many departmental and collegiate committees.” I want to extend my deep thanks to these faculty members for demonstrating their commitment to the future of our profession. And, once those students are here and rotating with us, each of you provides excellent modeling of the kinds of physicians they can become. The final story in this recent collection of “You Make a Difference” awards features kudos not just for attendings (Drs. Melinda Johnson, Alan Gunderson, and Karen Brust), residents (Drs. Joe Salomone and Lola Saliu) and nurses (Victoria Lake and McKenzie Elsbury), but medical students (Matthew Engelken and Peter Sanchez) as well. You all made such an impression on this patient’s family that they took the time to get each of your names. “The care and concern of everyone involved,” they wrote, “mirrored their professional skills.” That is the goal. Thank you.

About Isabella Grumbach, MD, PhD

Isabella Grumbach, MD, PhD; Interim Chair and DEO, Department of Internal Medicine; Kate Daum Endowed Professor; Professor of Medicine – Cardiovascular Medicine; Professor of Radiation Oncology

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