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How to carve out a career as an educator during fellowship


 

Editor’s Note - As CHEST has just awarded the designation of Distinguished CHEST Educator (DCE) to 173 honorees at CHEST 2019 in New Orleans, this blog reminds fellows to start early to pursue a clinician educator role throughout their career.

While fellowship training is a time to continue building the foundation of expert clinical knowledge, it also offers an opportunity to start assembling a portfolio as a clinician educator. It takes time to compile educational scholarship and to establish a reputation within the communities of both teachers and learners, so it pays to get a head start. Moreover, it also takes time to master techniques for effective teaching to become that outstanding educator that you once looked up to as a medical student or resident. Below are some things that I found helpful in jump-starting that path during fellowship training.

Find a Capable Mentor

As with any sort of career planning, mentorship is key. Mentorship can open doors to expand your network and introduce opportunities for scholarship activities. Find a mentor who shares similar views and values with something that you feel passionate about. If you are planning on starting a scholarly project, make sure that your mentor has the background suited to help you maximize the experience and offer you the tools needed to achieve that end.

Determine What You Are Passionate About

Medical education is a vast field. Try to find something in medical education that is meaningful to you, whether it be in undergraduate medical education or graduate medical education or something else altogether. You want to be able to set yourself up for success, so the work has to be worthwhile.

Seek Out Opportunities to Teach

There are always opportunities to teach whether it entails precepting medical students on patient interviews or going over pulmonary/critical care topics at resident noon conferences. What I have found is that active participation in teaching opportunities tends to open a cascade of doors to more teaching opportunities.

Look for Opportunities to Be Involved in Educational Committees

Medical education, much like medicine, is a highly changing field. Leadership in medical education is always looking for resident/fellow representatives to bring new life and perspective to educational initiatives. Most of these opportunities do not require too much of a time commitment, and most committees often meet on a once-monthly basis. However, it connects you with faculty who are part of the leadership who can guide and help set you up for future success in medical education. During residency, I was able to take part in the intern curriculum committee to advise the direction of intern report. Now as a fellow, I’ve been able to meet many faculty and fellows with similar interests as mine in the CHEST Trainee Work Group.

Engage in Scholarly Activities

It is one thing to have a portfolio detailing teaching experiences, but it is another thing to have demonstrated published works in the space of medical education. It shows long-term promise as a clinician educator, and it shows leadership potential in advancing the field. It doesn’t take much to produce publications in medical education—there are always journals who look for trainees to contribute to the field whether it be an editorial or systematic review or innovative ideas.

About the Author

Justin K. Lui, MD, is a graduate of Boston University School of Medicine. He completed an internal medicine residency and chief residency at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He is currently a second-year pulmonary and critical care medicine fellow at Boston University School of Medicine.

Reprinted from CHEST’s Thought Leader’s Blog, July 2019. This post is part of Our Life as a Fellow blog post series and includes “fellow life lessons” from current trainees in leadership with CHEST.

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