AAMC seminars offer networking, learning opportunities for all career levels

Monday, January 7, 2013

In their own words: Three members of Duke's Department of Medicine share their perspective after attending Association of American Medical Colleges seminars in 2012.

These conversations have been edited for clarity and brevity.

Laura DeCastro, MD, associate professor of medicine (Hematology)

What seminar did you attend?
The mid-career women faculty professional development seminar in December.

What sessions or topics were the most interesting and applicable to your work?
I was very pleased with the components of the seminar, the target audience, the participants, which were very diverse, and the topics that were included. The topics that resounded with me were on team building and getting to know yourself better, to be a more effective leader and team builder.

What was the seminar like?
The activities were hands-on. We were divided into groups, and very early in the meeting they announced we needed to come up with a project to present the last night of the seminar, but they were very open about the content and how we needed to put it together. Interestingly enough, even though there were probably 20 to 25 different projects, a lot of them supplemented each other without being repetitive and many were based on different topics or discussions that occurred during the seminar. My group decided to develop a web-based forum where all 150 attendees could connect for mentoring, consulting and discussing problems. We got faculty to serve as consultants and supporters and conducted a survey that provided data and graphs for the website. Networking also was a big part of the seminar. There was a nice balance of clinicians and basic scientists from all over the country, from major to small institutions, and I made some good connections, including my group members, who I will follow up with.

What did you gain from your seminar experience?
I am planning to implement a lot of the things that I learned, to enhance what I do and how I do things. One of my personal goals is to get more involved with PWIM, especially with junior faculty females of minority background.

Would you recommend other faculty attend this seminar?
I strongly recommend going to a conference. In fact, I already have approached colleagues here and recommended they consider attending, and I would encourage junior faculty to attend a conference, too.

Liza Genao, MD, post-doctoral scholar, Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development at Duke

What seminar did you attend?
The minority faculty career development seminar in September.

What sessions or topics were the most interesting and applicable to your work?
AAMC does this program once a year, and it's a very eye-opening experience. Because there are many unwritten rules that happen in terms of recruitment, it can be discouraging and disappointing if things don't work out for minorities. They may quit because there aren't as many minorities who have gone before them. The conference presentations were kind of like testimonial talks about how to get through situations, with personal examples, and how to cope with low self-esteem, and how to make things work in your department.

What did you gain from your seminar experience?
The seminar helped me think about the effects (on my career) of being a Spanish speaker who learned English as a second language. I learned how to work with my chair to make me competitive for funding and how to conduct myself when discriminated against and to teach others not to discriminate. I had time to come up with an academic, five-year plan, and I received hands-on and individualized help. I feel like I can work on this and achieve it. It gave me a sense of independence because I now know the requirements across the country and what a new employer needs to offer.

Would you recommend others attend an AAMC seminar?
Everyone, in my opinion, who is in my situation, who is a minority, needs to attend this conference. Listening to someone who has 10 years of experience tells you more and teaches you to be a strong, confident and competitive minority faculty member. It's essential. The network, people in the same situations, was the best part. You can ask, "how did you deal with this," and get unbiased help from others at other institutions.

Nicki Hastings, MD, assistant professor of medicine (Geriatrics)

What seminar did you attend?
The 2012 early career women faculty professional development seminar in July.

What sessions or topics were the most interesting and applicable to your work?
The conference unfolded over a few days at a conference center in D.C., and it was an enjoyable and important conference for me. It was unlike scientific conferences faculty attend because it was focused on professional development. It brought together faculty from all over the country at the same career stage as I am, but there was also a diversity of people there in terms of their career path. The programming was really useful, but as useful was networking with people from across the country who are facing the same challenges we are at Duke.

What did you gain from your seminar experience?
The conference really ran the gamut from trying to bring out some very concrete logistical skills that give you tools to bring back so you can hit the ground running. Some were more thought-provoking in terms of how to effect change at your own institution. My research is on health services, figuring out how to improve health services and how health services can better serve the medically and socially vulnerable. I really want to see researchers and administrators work together to share knowledge so we're not working in our own silos. It was great to spend time brainstorming ways that people who work in different fields can come together. It's been an exciting time to bring those skills home because there's so much going on in care design.

Would you recommend other faculty attend an AAMC seminar?
There are several things that make this a good conference. The content is targeted for junior faculty; there are great opportunities to network with peers; there was time set aside to be deliberate with career planning. Everyone is so busy that it can be hard to see beyond the task in front of you. This really forced you to be in another frame of mind for a few days and think more broadly. I felt like the return on investment was there for this conference.

The Department of Medicine's Program for Women in Medicine and Minority Recruitment and Retention Committee sponsor seminar attendance each year. Past attendees have included:

  • Hope Uronis (Early Career, 2012)
  • Gerald Bloomfield (Minority, 2012)
  • Carla Brady (Early Career, 2011)
  • Regina Crawford (Minority, 2011)
  • Jane Gagliardi (Early Career, 2010)
  • Manal Abdelmalek (Mid Career, 2010)
  • Bryan Batch (Minority, 2010)
  • Leonor Corsino (Minority, 2009)

For a full schedule of upcoming AAMC seminars, click here.