SGIM Forum

From the Society: Part II

Meet the 2019 SGIM Education Awards Winners!

Dr. Zipkin (, Twitter @EvidenceBasedMD) is an associate professor of medicine at Duke University School of Medicine. Dr. Chisty (, Twitter @aliachisty) is an associate professor at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Penn State College of Medicine. Dr. Kaplan (, Twitter @LawrenceKaplan5) is a professor of medicine and associate dean for interprofessional education at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University.

(Editor’s note: Due to a variety of reasons, this tribute to the 2019 SGIM Education Awards Winners never made it into an earlier issue of Forum. Regardless of the timing, we are happy to pay tribute to some of SGIM’s outstanding educators. Joseph Conigliaro)

The Awards Subcommittee of the Education Committee is pleased to highlight this past years’ SGIM Education Award Winners! Here we share Q&A with each winner where we explored the inspirations, triumph, and challenges that contributed to their impressive achievements.

2019 Winner of the Career Achievement in Medical Education Award / Adina Kalet, MD, MPH

By Daniella Zipkin, MD

What inspired you to pursue a career in medical education?

I always wanted to be a dancer! My first educator role was teaching dance at Stuyvesant High School in New York City. As the daughter of refugees and Holocaust survivors, however, I grew up with an expectation that I would pursue a career in something more traditional, like medicine. I had a fantasy of doing something in medicine that would combine the arts and love of learning. When I first started at the Sophie-Davis School for Biomedical Education, a 6 year BS-MD program where I started studying medicine right off the bat in college, I was skeptical. But it turned out to be just the career defining experience that I needed: I was surrounded by non-traditional student peers and immersed in an environment of innovation in education. As part of the inaugural class of the Primary Care Internal Medicine Residency at NYU in 1984, led by Mack Lipkin Jr., my peers and I co-created the program as we went. I was sold! Inspired by my medical educator role models, I knew I could focus on teaching. With no clear path for educators after training, we blazed a trail with Mack’s help, through a year of funded international exchange and then a Robert Wood Johnson fellowship at UNC which I molded to my goals. I advocated and argued that health professions education research was just as important to the health of the public as basic science, clinical and health services research. Feeling that traditional medical education was sucking the humanity out of students, I was inspired to make change.

To date, what is a career accomplishment that you are most proud of? Building the Program for Medical Education Innovation and Research at NYU (PrMEIR) was my most satisfying accomplishment. Through deeply collaborative relationships with Sandy Zabar and Colleen Gillespie, we were able to create our vision of a safe space for clinician educators to be taken seriously and grow as scholars, and we were continuously funded by HRSA, AHRQ, NIH and foundations for over 15 years.

Can you describe one of your biggest professional challenges and how you approached it? After almost 30 years at the same institution things began to change. There were a few critical moments where my institutional leadership made clear they did not value the work I was doing. Undertones of differential treatment of female faculty made institutional pivots harder to weather. Realizing that these issues where not simply the normal ebbs and flows of any workplace but information about a change in institutional culture, I started to pay more attention to leadership opportunities elsewhere. In 2019 I was selected to lead the Kern Institute for the Transformation of Medical Education at the Medical College of Wisconsin. I am now a few months into starting the role and enjoying it immensely. (See the announcement here!


2019 Winner of the Mid-Career Education Mentorship Award / Donna Windish, MD, MPH

By Alia Chisty, MS, MD

What inspired you to pursue a career in medical education? When I entered medical school at the University of Connecticut, there was a change in the curriculum from lecture-based teaching to small group learning and problem-based medicine, and they partnered with medical students to assure that the new curriculum was effective. I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the new initiatives and served on different curricular committees in addition to developing new curricula of my own. I later pursued teaching roles in residency and then a clinician educator fellowship at Johns Hopkins. Early teaching experiences and outstanding mentorship have cemented my passion for education.

To date, what is a career accomplishment that you are most proud of? First, I developed the Yale General Internal Medicine Medical Education Fellowship Program which is now in its 4th year. This program was built out of my accumulated experience of what knowledge, attitudes and skills a clinician-educator scholar needs to succeed in academic medicine. The fellowship has become a popular option for residents looking into academic careers. I now work side by side with two of my past fellows, and I am impressed at how successful they have become as clinician educators and leaders.

This year, I established the Yale University Department of Internal Medicine Advancement of Clinician-Educator Scholarship (ACES) Faculty Development Program. This program is designed to improve the educational scholarship of junior clinician educators in the Department. I have recruited talented faculty to teach in the program, including some of my own past fellows, and it is a joy to have created a space where their ideas come alive.

Can you describe one of your biggest professional challenges and how you approached it? My biggest professional challenge was becoming a program director of an internal medicine training program at a new hospital when our program was expanding. It was short notice and a new program needed to be established quickly. It needed to be built from the ground up, with new trainees, faculty, and staff. Though it seemed insurmountable at times, the support of mentors and peers helped to bring it together. It truly took a village!

What has been your favorite part of mentoring your learners? There really is no greater joy to me than to mentor. To see a person’s ideas come to life or to help guide the direction of a project or a person’s career really makes my day. I take my role as a mentor seriously and find myself mentoring others who have varied interests in medicine. I feel proud to watch those whom I mentored grow and succeed.

What advice would you give to a junior clinician educator who is looking to pursue a similar career?

  1. Join organizations that support clinician educators. Do this locally, regionally and nationally early in your career.
  2. Get mentors and collaborators in medical education both inside and outside your institution.
  3. Find ways to get leadership roles, even if they seem small at first.
  4. Develop scholarship early in your career and find your niche.
  5. Learn to say yes to things that seem like they can further your career, but no to things that may be distractors.
  6. Get additional education in areas that will advance your career through classes, courses, or mentors with special interests or training.


2019 Winner of the Scholarship in Medical Education Award / Subha Ramani, MBBS, MPH, MMEd, PhD

By Lawrence Kaplan, MD

What inspired you to pursue a career in medical education? I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. My first exposure to education was through the Stanford faculty development program. Later, at Dundee in 2002, Ronald Harden’s passion for education and his description of the Three Circle Dundee model spoke to me. The first circle is doing the right thing, becoming a better teacher through faculty development. The second is taking a scholarly approach to teaching, which led me to my MMEd. Realizing I loved education as a science, that led me to the third circle, becoming a scholar, and ultimately a PhD at Maastricht. I’ve had great mentors who inspired me including Ronald Harden, Cees van der Vleuten and Karen Mann. My Department Chair formerly at BU and now at the Brigham was Joseph Loscalzo, MD, PhD. I snuck into his office to ask for advice and he became a tremendous mentor to me. I like writing and like to think that I could be the JK Rowling of medical education!

To date, what is a career accomplishment that you are most proud of?

First is mentoring. I set up the scholars in medical education pathway as part of the IM residency at BWH and subsequently won the residency research mentor award. It is exciting to stimulate a passion for education in young trainees. Secondly I was willing to step outside the box and look beyond the medical education literature to other realms like organizational psychology and linguistics to learn to expand my knowledge. I believe in lifelong learning.

Can you describe one of your biggest professional challenges and how you approached it? The biggest setback is getting buy in from others in leadership, as I’ve not taken a traditional path. There are still skeptics, but going through this unorthodox process forces you to sweep the cobwebs from your brain and makes you think outside the box.

What advice would you give to a junior clinician educator who is looking to pursue a similar career?

You have to find your own passion. If you want to be a master teacher and stop there, that is fine. If you want to go further and become a scholar that is great but don’t force yourself to do what you don’t have a passion for you also need to have humility and the ability to take harsh constructive feedback.

Do you have any other wisdom to share? What you can’t do is just follow your own interests; you need to align with department and institutional mission. You have to give back. Recognize and write down how you are your own worst enemy and learn to be introspective to self-identify your stumbling blocks. Life is short, follow your passion but make a contribution to the field.


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