By: Karly Ann Pippitt, MD, FAAFP
March 30 is National Doctor’s Day. Appropriately over the years, this has morphed into a day to thank all the health care providers on a team, for medicine has truly become a team effort. For all those clinicians out there, on this day, I want you to think about all the people who helped you get to this point in your career. While it is easy to thank your family and your partners for all their support during the extensive training and long days, I really want you to think about your mentors – those people who kept you moving when times were hard and celebrated your many successes along the way.
This is not an exhaustive list from me, but it is a shout out to many of the early mentors in my career to whom I owe a debt of gratitude.
Karen Gunning, PharmD.
Karen has been a mentor since residency. She was also one of the first people I ever co-authored a paper with. She is always ready with a project, a clinical pearl, or advice about life as a faculty member. At the first national conference I went to, I was overwhelmed and terrified; Karen never complained that I essentially stuck to her like glue the majority of the conference. She has wisdom beyond her years and is unfailingly kind and generous with her time.
Rick Ash, PhD and David Morton, PhD.
While I first got to know these characters as a medical student, I was fortunate to start my teaching career with them as faculty. Both of them have won multiple awards for their teaching, and for good reason. From them, I have learned how to be a better educator. Rick’s zeal for teaching and student support is matched by David’s enthusiasm for new ideas and methods of instruction. I will never look at PowerPoint the same, and I’ll always remember that “it’s complicated.”
Susan Baggaley, APRN
I first met Susan as a medical student when my own health issues were interfering with my schoolwork. I remember being floored when she gave me her pager number. I could not believe that someone would entrust me with the ability to contact her at any time. This grew into a true mentorship when I joined the Headache team a few years ago. Susan has been a tireless supporter of having an embedded primary care clinician as part of the team, and I have learned an incredible amount about diagnosis and management of headaches, as well as how to have tough conversations with patients.
Sonja VanHala, MD
Sonja was and always will be my residency director. In this role, she helped usher me through one of the most arduous times in my medical career. While this in and of itself is noteworthy, she has shown me how to be a leader in the field of family medicine, while never losing my foundation as a caregiver for my patients. Sonja is a champion for resident and faculty wellness. As a colleague and fellow faculty member, I am always impressed with her leadership skills – she allows her faculty to flourish and grow, while still steering the ship in the right direction, one that allows and cultivates change.
A keen observer might note that only one of these mentors is a physician. We need to look for mentors in all aspects of our careers. As mentors, we should be thoughtful and giving of our time, as a way to thank those who did so for us. As mentees, we should keep a perspective on what we are asking of our mentors and what we are giving back in this relationship.
Thank you to everyone who has helped me achieve my goals as a physician. I appreciate all your time, efforts, and wisdom. I would not be the physician educator I am without all of you.
Karly Ann Pippitt, MD, FAAFP, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine.