June 30, 2021
When did you join UTHealth? What brought you here?
I joined UTHealth as a temporary contract employee in October 1998 and by December 1998 was hired in a permanent position as a support specialist in the Office of Educational Programs (OEP) under Dr. Patricia Butler, vice dean for Educational Programs. I was fresh out of high school, looking to find my career path while simultaneously enrolled as a part-time evening college student. Medical education was something I was not familiar with at the time, and it was truly amazing to see all the hidden processes and hard work by students, faculty, and staff that goes into “making a doctor.”
Tell me about your work history here.
Over the years in Educational Programs, I worked with a few different programs and countless faculty from all departments for those programs. I worked with the Summer Enrichment Program and the Pre-Entry Program, where dinners for the student participants and faculty at Dr. Butler’s home were always a highlight. I then moved to work with the Fundamentals of Clinical Medicine (FCM) and Problem Based Learning (PBL) course, where I worked closely with Dr. Stanley Schultz, former dean, and Dr. Donald Molony, professor in Renal Diseases and Hypertension. Many of these programs have evolved over the years, but the mission remains the same. In 2005, I went “across the street” to MD Anderson Cancer Center for an administrative role working with the rotating students, residents, and fellows in the Anesthesia and Critical Care programs from UTHealth. My time at MD Anderson allowed me to see the varied work cultures at the different healthcare education entities. After a year there, I missed the collaborative spirit that our faculty at McGovern Medical School exhibit daily. I found a new work home in the Department of Internal Medicine, in an Educational Programs Coordinator role, ironically enough, for the FCM course, which had now been formally separated from PBL and moved into Internal Medicine, as well as the Fourth-Year IM Required Ambulatory clerkship. It was great to be able to start my new job working with many of the faculty members that I had previously worked with while in Educational Programs. Dr. John Foringer, now vice-chair in the Department of Internal Medicine, was a junior faculty member at that time and had just taken over as course director for the FCM course. I have worked with Dr. Mark A. Farnie, student clerkship director for many years, and for anyone that knows him, he provides entertainment in every workday. I am glad that I still get to work with him today, albeit more so in one of his other roles as Program Director for the combined Internal Medicine and Pediatrics Residency program. I have been able to grow professionally in Internal Medicine over the years, moving through the track of educational program coordinator and program manager positions and into my current role as senior program manager for education for the entire Department of Internal Medicine. I work with a team of dedicated coordinators in our student, resident, and fellow educational programs. As previously mentioned, many of the faculty I worked with in my first position in the Office of Educational Programs, I have been able to work with in different capacities. I recall seeing Dr. Philip Orlander frequently in OEP since he was the departing Curriculum Committee chair when I started in 1998, and now in his role as vice-chair for education in Internal Medicine, I work with him daily on a spectrum of educational items for the Department of Internal Medicine.
What are you most proud of accomplishing?
Right away I would say, the 10-year ACGME Accreditation site visit for our entire Internal Medicine Department’s GME programs. In March 2018, we were the first at McGovern Medical School to complete this department-wide process and were considered by the ACGME as a Jumbo department since we had so many programs being reviewed at the same time. Working closely with all 17 program directors and coordinators, as well as Dr. Pamela Promecene, associate dean for Graduate Medical Education and now our ACGME Designated Institutional Official (DIO) for this massive departmental undertaking, was a great experience and I am proud to say that all our programs received full continued accreditation.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I enjoy the collaborative spirit of our faculty who value everyone’s contributions to the mission. Additionally, working with trainees at various levels over the years, it has been very rewarding to see individuals who were medical students when I first started at UTHealth now as physician leaders in our institution, such as Dr. Mark Warner, program director of the Pulmonary and Critical Care Fellowship.
Why have you stayed?
The people. I have had the great fortune to always have the best administrative and faculty bosses at McGovern, and great colleagues throughout all departments. I have an amazing DMO, Sarah Peirce, who, when we were both in more junior roles in the department, we shared an office and have maintained a very positive and supportive relationship over the years. I stay in contact with multiple colleagues who have retired or moved to other institutions around the country. The friendships you build here definitely last. Beginning my career at UTHealth at the age of 19, I have literally grown up around these wonderful people.
When you are not at work, how do you spend your time?
Traveling. I always look forward to being on a beach or discovering a new place, so I am excited that we now have the COVID vaccine and travel is more accessible. I also enjoy relaxing and spending downtime with family and friends, whether it is at sushi happy hour, a backyard BBQ, or family game night.