“I was born on Friday the 13th in a snowstorm, but have always considered myself a lucky person." This was the first sentence of my college application essay and it still holds true today.
As a senior in high school, my mother and I toured many college campuses together. It was a wonderful weekend bonding experience that I treasure to this day. We visited illustrious universities on the East and West coasts, and while all were terrific, it was hard to identify the one that was a perfect fit. Along the way we visited Northwestern as I had been invited to interview for the Honors Program in Medical Education (HPME) affectionately known at the time as "Six Year Med." After touring the beautiful Evanston campus on an unusually warm January day, I spent the afternoon on the Chicago campus. I interviewed with friendly, accomplished faculty members and then reunited with a current medical student who was from my hometown. Something clicked as I walked around the hospital with her. I loved the energy of the busy urban environment and felt a palpable excitement while speaking with other students. After finding out I had been accepted, it was an easy decision to choose Northwestern for my undergraduate and medical school education.
When I was asked to write this essay I thought, “what can I say about the past 30+ years?” Anyone who knows me knows I have a lot of purple pride. Northwestern is an amazing institution and I am grateful and lucky to have experienced a myriad of opportunities at Feinberg. Medical school was a difficult but also amazing journey. I began medical school as a young and inexperienced student with no patient care experience, and entered internship in 1991 feeling prepared and eager for a career filled with new challenges.
After residency at the University of Chicago, I returned home and joined the Northwestern General Internal Medicine faculty in 1994. I flourished in the Department of Medicine under the leadership of Lewis Landsberg, Larry Jameson and Douglas Vaughan. The highlight of my career at Feinberg includes leading the internal medicine residency program for 11 years. I was continually inspired by the excellence and work ethic of the "nice, hardworking and smart" internal medicine residents and am especially proud of all of their subsequent accomplishments in clinical care, research, leadership, and community service.
As a young faculty member I had little experience in research, but my career trajectory was transformed in 2003 when I met Bill McGaghie, a world-renowned medical education investigator and fellow Northwestern football season ticket holder. Bill inspires excellence and never settles for second best. In addition to research methodology, he taught me that diverse teams are the strongest teams. Through Bill’s example and many clinical and administrative experiences, I have learned that thoughtfully incorporating differing perspectives into research, clinical care and administrative decisions always yields the best result.
I am confident that selecting Northwestern all those years ago was among the best decisions I ever made. The friendships and career opportunities I found at Feinberg are simply unparalleled. On a personal level, I am forever grateful that I have been supported and encouraged to assume leadership roles while maintaining work-life balance as a working mother.
While I have enjoyed this look back at my Pathway to Feinberg, I am reminded of my father’s childhood exhortation to my sister and me to “not rest on our laurels.” We are fortunate to have amazing students, residents, fellows and faculty, but there is always room to improve the curricula we teach, and we must continuously adapt to the changing world in which our graduates will practice. As I approach my 25th medical school class reunion, I am grateful for the past, fully engaged in the present and excited for the future of this wonderful school.