We can all point to people that changed the course of our lives. Mentors, many from our graduate medical education, that inspired us in medicine.
After my residency at Baylor College of Medicine, and as I pursued a fellowship in my specialty, I came to study under William K. Wright, MD. From the first day, Dr. Wright not only readily shared his knowledge, but challenged me to build on his advances; to create and innovate new surgical techniques, to improve the level of patient care. With him the patients always came first and he would strive to do the best he could for each one of them.
The power of professional and personal mentorship inspired me to achieve excellence. I wanted to propel others and pay it forward for the next generation of surgeons in my specialty. As a clinical professor at University of Texas Health Science Center & McGovern Medical School, Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, residents rotate through my practice and many have been inspired to pursue private practices of their own, while others have thrived in academic settings. It has been so rewarding to me to have had the opportunity to sit down with these beginning physicians and help and advise them as they plan out their career and life plans.
As a Fellowship Director for the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, I have trained more than 35 fellows and I know my current fellow will use her training to mentor others as well. Many of my previous fellows have continued to participate in organized medicine at the local, state, or national levels. Many have achieved leadership positions as well. And one of my previous fellows is now my associate and partner in my own practice in Houston.
Yet, like other specialties, there are not enough Fellowship or Resident slots for the number of highly qualified candidates. I get over 20 applicants a year for my one fellowship spot. The AAMC’s annual survey shows that student body growth won’t alleviate the looming physician shortage unless the shortfalls in residencies and clinical training sites are also addressed.
Enrollment in the nation’s medical schools continues to grow, but leaders at many of those schools worry that there are not enough residency programs and clinical training sites for students to complete their requirements to become medical doctors, according to a new report from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).
We must find solutions. There needs to be more federal and state funding for residency training slots. Perhaps there are other funding sources as well for GME like the private or corporate sector as exemplified by performing arts groups.
Paying it forward to a new generation pays it forward to patients too.