Faculty Perspective: Leadership Development

By Zyra Dent


The Department of Medicine (DOM) has a longstanding history of providing resources and opportunities to faculty at all levels who are on their journey towards building a rewarding career in academic medicine. One component of the department’s vision includes supporting the development of faculty through professional and leadership development programs. 

The DOM Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and the DOM Chair’s Office have both committed to investing in development efforts by sponsoring women and minority faculty to attend the Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) Faculty Leadership Development seminars. 

“I’m very glad the Department can sponsor faculty attendance at these AAMC seminars for women and for those from underrepresented groups,” Laura Svetkey, MD, MHS, vice chair, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “Many years ago, I attended the Early Career Women Faculty Leadership Development seminar, and got not just fellowship and networking opportunities, but some really practical advice, that I follow, to this day.” 

It was Dr. Svetkey’s personal experience that has encouraged her to have attendees attend these seminars and return to Duke with highlights and lessons learned to share within the Department. 

The 2022 AAMC Leadership Development series participants included: 

Clarissa Diamantidis, MD, MHS, associate professor in the division of General Internal Medicine, attended the Mid-Career Minority Faculty Leadership Development Seminar. This seminar is designed for minority individuals at the associate professor level who aspire to leadership roles. The seminar utilized a culturally responsive approach to enhance participants' leadership skills, network among others, assess professional development goals and identify strategies and tools for promotion and tenure. 

Titus Ngeno, MD, assistant professor, Cardiology, attended the Junior Minority Faculty Leadership Development Seminar, which was designed for minority junior and -post-doctoral faculty who aspire to leadership positions in academic medicine. The seminar helps faculty identify their professional development goals, design a career path, and strategize how they will collect tools for their professional development. While expanding their network of colleagues and role models, participants were allowed to build key professional competencies that will enhance their grant writing and communications skills. 

Jennifer Rymer, MD, MBA, assistant professor, Cardiology, attended the Early Career Women Faculty Leadership Development Seminar. This seminar was designed to provide women at the assistant professor level with foundational knowledge and skills that will enable them to achieve their goals and thrive as successful leaders in academic medicine. 

While the different seminars vary in focus, the group all agreed that the seminars were a great place to network with minority and women physicians, share experiences, and learn different tactics to take on issues such as institutional support and ethnicity and gender-based discrimination they may face as minoritized and female physicians. 

Common theme each of the faculty approached while at the seminars were opportunities, networking, and collaboration. 


With the use of interactive workshops and engaging discussions, the attendees were each advised to be mindful of rising opportunities and to become more at ease with actively seeking consideration for leadership positions. The conference participants said they learned valuable lessons on prioritization. 

“During the seminar, I learned that it is important to understand what is valued by your institution and prioritize your opportunities. Make sure that if what you’re doing is not valued by your institution, don’t do it. Because it serves no purpose for you. It will not bolster your professional development. It will help someone else look good, but it won’t help you succeed,” Diamantidis said. 

Since the conference, Rymer said she is actively prioritizing opportunities, and demonstrating enthusiasm and willingness to grow professionally, by voicing to leadership that she is interested in various opportunities and roles. 

“One of the big takeaways that I got from the conference was [that] as women we have to be more comfortable asking. Asking to be considered for various opportunities, asking to take on various roles, and being careful about taking on “soft” roles,” she said. “Often women get tapped to do party planning and things like that. So, make sure that you’re feeling comfortable to ask and acknowledge to your leadership what priorities you have, in terms of your career, and make sure you emphasize what roles you are interested in and what steps you’d like to take to get to those roles.” 


As the medical community continues to combat systemic disparities, Ngeno said that he believes conferences, such as the one he attended, are important. “These professional development programs bring together people that have similar shared lived experiences, connect them, and build networking relationships.” 

“It was wonderful. Not just the content that was provided, but the opportunity to network and build this community. There’s something powerful about being in a room with 150 to 200 successful minority physicians. That’s empowering,” Diamantidis said. 

“I think having that network of support and that community to lean on is important in academics,” she added. Hearing the stories of people who are taking charge, self-advocating, and learning what’s worked for them and what hasn’t worked for them, was incredibly valuable.” 

Rymer found the opportunity to expand her connections outside of Cardiology rewarding. “Very rarely do I get to network with people outside of Cardiology. So, I think particularly at this stage in my career, where a lot of women are juggling a lot of different tasks both professionally and personally, it’s nice to be able to share those experiences and understand they are really common amongst a variety of women from different backgrounds and areas of the country. I ultimately developed friendships and relationships there, with people that I’ve kept in touch with.” 


The seminar's immersive environment fostered a sense of collaboration and community. The opportunity to interact with like-minded professionals from diverse backgrounds enhanced their understanding of different healthcare systems and practices, transcending the limitations of their specialties. 

According to Ngeno, being part of an institution entails recognizing its strengths and weaknesses, as well as being aware of your own. “This awareness has allowed me to identify what can be changed both now and in the future. While immediate change may not be possible for all things, through collaboration we can promote remarkable change.” 

For Rymer, having a chance to extend her engagement with professionals outside of her specialty has led her to pursue additional opportunities. “I am networking with physicians from other sub-specialties that overlap with Cardiology to plan future research projects.” 

By transcending the boundaries of their specialties, the group found affirmation, community, and inspiration. These events left a permanent mark on the participants' professional journeys, as they continue on a path to reshape the future of healthcare for the better. 

2023 Faculty Selections 

The Department is excited to announce the selection of its 2023 AAMC Leadership Development Seminars participants. 

  • Julius Wilder, MD, assistant professor, Gastroenterology; and John Duronville, MD, assistant professor, Nephrology, will attend the Early-Career Minority Faculty Leadership Development Seminar 

  • Gerry Bloomfield, MD, associate professor, Cardiology, will attend the Mid-Career Minority Faculty Leadership Development Seminar 

  • Kai Sun, MD, assistant professor, Rheumatology and Immunology; and Jenny Van Kirk, MD, assistant professor, General Internal Medicine, will attend the Early-Career Women Faculty Leadership Development Seminar 

  • Camille Frazier-Mills, MD, associate professor, Cardiology; and Thuy Le, MD, associate professor, Infectious Diseases, will attend the Mid-Career Women Faculty Leadership Development Seminar. 

This group will share their lessons learned in our Fall 2023 Faculty Development spotlight.