Archive for the '[Education&Careers]' category

Travel Time #AAMC15

Nov 04 2015 Published by under Societies and Meetings

Blog1Tomorrow I hit the friendly skies to head to Baltimore for the annual meeting of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).  Unlike most meetings, this one focuses on non-scientific parts of the mission of academic health centers. Teaching, funding, increasing diversity, professionalism - all will be discussed at various points in the program.

The AAMC has been examining ways to shorten the medical school curriculum, in part to reduce debt burden for new physicians. I graduated from University of Missouri at Kansas City, a program developed to do this from the ground up. Immediately after high school, I entered the program and graduated with both a BA and MD in 6 years. UMKC graduates have gone on to success in all aspects of medicine, including academia and scientific research.

So why hasn't this model of acceleration received more attention?

When a call went out for discussion groups during a luncheon, I put this topic in the hat. I am delighted that it was selected! If you are interested in the 6-year approach or condensing the medical curriculum, and you are at the meeting, please join me at 11:45 am this Saturday in the University Ballroom of the Marriott at Camden Yards. We will be at Table 1.

Yes, I will blog about this and other meeting sessions. Expect live tweets as well.

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Another Problem for Puerto Rico

Jul 01 2015 Published by under Regulation

My recent meeting included a session with the Deans of Puerto Rico's four medical colleges. As we discussed diversity and inclusion, they presented an unexpected issue. Because Puerto Rico is a US territory, its medical schools are accredited by the same groups as those on the mainland. Their students must take the MCAT, National Boards, and Specialty Boards that mainland students do.

These exams are only offered in English.

That means only truly bilingual students can hope to get into medical school and eventually qualify to practice. For the urban population and wealthier people, this is not a huge problem. For the bulk of the island, that level of English fluency is difficult. Medical school thus becomes primarily an upper-class option, perhaps even more so than on the mainland United States.

Then, if you have that sort of fluency, training on the continent provides more options than the island. Once you move to train, it becomes tempting to stay, leading to major brain drain for Puerto Rico.

My school's problems seem less weighty now.


By the way, San Juan is a lovely city. You can visit the Caribbean without a passport. All of your appliances, including your cell phone, will work. OK, some Verizon customers had issues with voice calls, but my AT&T phone worked just fine. No plug adapters required. There's history, tropical beauty, and the ocean. You will eat more rice, beans, and plantains that you imagined possible, but the food is delicious. So is the rum.

So go; you can thank me later.



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Packing Time for #ExpBio

Mar 26 2015 Published by under Societies and Meetings

Last night OKC had its first rough weather for 2015. It all stayed south of my home, so our fully-equipped storm shelter (AKA personal tomb) remains unused. Today I pack for a different sort of weather in Boston. It looks like we will avoid having more snow fall on us, but even with temps above freezing, the ground won’t be clear before we leave.

LogoThis year I am taking a different approach to blogging at the meeting. I have picked a bunch of interesting abstracts, and I will attend presentations. I may or may not write about each of them. I will cover major lectures and the communications workshop.

So stay in touch here at the blog. Follow me on twitter (@PHLane) or connect with me on LinkedIn.  Remember to tag your tweets and posts with #ExpBio.

I promise you some hot science in a cold city.

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Lagging to the Top

Mar 11 2015 Published by under Women in Medicine, Women in Science

For some time I have wondered why women now comprise about half of all medical graduates, yet our leadership remains so...male (and white). A few years back I had the opportunity to found Academic Women for Equality Now to explore this issue, but the level of conversation I dreamed about never materialized there.

Now we have another opportunity.

Next week New England Journal of Medicine, via its online forum, will feature a discussion on this very issue. The discussants are listed below and, yes, I am part of the group:


POWERED BY medstro

Women Physicians in Leadership Roles: Why are we still underrepresented?


Hope Ricciotti, MD
Chair and Residency Program Director, OBGYN Dept, BIDMC
Diane McGrory, MD
Gynecologist, Newton-Wellesley Hospital
Marie Crandall, MD, MPH, FACS
Associate Professor of Surgery, Trauma & Critical Care, Northwestern
Kim Templeton, MD
President-elect of the American Medical Women’s Association
Jana Janco
Member, Governing Council, Women's Physician Section, Delegate to the AMA
Jennifer Carter, MD, MPH
Chief Medical Officer & Founder, N-of-One
Lanalee Sam, MD
Founder, Elite Obstetrics & Gynecology
Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, MD
President Elect of the American Medical Women’s Association
Susan Pories, MD, FACS
Associate Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School
Nidhi Ravishankar, MD Candidate
MS2, Windsor University School of Medicine
Pascale Lane, MD
Founder, Academic Women for Equality Now
Lisa Hofler, MD, MPH
Associate, Dept of OBGYN, Emory

So tune in at on March 17 for what should be an interesting discussion!

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Not Losing #NaNoWriMo

Nov 29 2014 Published by under Opportunities

The month draws to a close, and I have written nowhere near the 50,000 words I promised National Novel Writing Month. By their definition, I am not a winner.

PenInkBy my definition, I am not a loser, though.

The idea for this novel has been flitting around my brain for more than 20 years. Four years ago I confessed my idea to my son who has periodically asked me about my progress. I feel good that I finally have more than a couple of character sketches sitting around on my hard drive.

Oh, I started out well. About 5,000 words into November, I realized that my antagonist needed more work. A lot more work.

I had given a lot of thought to the motivations and behavior of the protagonist. I know her inside and out, backwards and forwards, right-side-up and get the idea. However, the antagonist in my story provides the catalytic event that changes everything. As I wrote more about him, he proved to be a cardboard cutout, not a fully developed person. I did not know him well enough to make him or his behavior real.

So I stopped writing and began researching. I read papers about his issues and began drawing his character arc in more detail.

I accomplished a lot in November, even if it is not reflected in my word count. Technically, that seems like winning, too.

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Tough Prep for #NaNoWriMo

Oct 24 2014 Published by under Opportunities

November is getting closer...

November is getting closer...

I am doing some preparatory work for my novel writing efforts in November, in particular coming up with the characters for my story. You would be surprised how difficult making up names for these folks can be.

This book will be dramatic, filled with intrigue and danger. I can’t call the bad guy Dr. Evil or Mr. Heroin. Like most writers (or so I’m told), I have created place-filler names. Some come from friends and acquaintances. Others I pulled from a baby name site. Either way, they still sound fake to me.

I am therefore crowdsourcing a bit. Do you want to be a character in my novel? I can use just a first name or, hell, I will use your first and last name if you like. Feel free to honor a dead relative or a pet (latter dead or alive). Please do not submit your sworn enemy’s name. Just comment below and tell me why you think your name suggestion should be a character in my book. Also give me some idea about the attributes of the character. I do not want to make Saint Joan into Joan Junkie, after all.

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Commitment or Insanity? #nanowrimo

Oct 17 2014 Published by under Opportunities

During my residency in pediatrics, I had an idea for a story. As I pondered various twists and turns in the tale, I realized that telling the world would result in a novel.

Needless to say, life intervened. A couple of kids, a lab to start, a career to develop; somehow these all kept me from getting around to putting my words on record.

A couple of years ago I told my son about my idea. He was pretty amazed at the level of detail I had already incorporated into the general plot. Every time he came home from college, he asked about my progress. I finally started a Scrivener file for the work and began creating character sheets and some scene outlines. At least I could say it was a work in progress, and not just a dream in my soul.

Today I saw a link to the National Novel Writing Month site. I signed up, agreeing to write 50,000 words during November.

I will likely fail to write this many words.

Even if I only grind out 20,000 words, that’s a lot more than I have done to date. Having that bit of competition and encouragement may make it happen, and may get me to produce more than I anticipate.

Any of you have dreams of authorship? Not scientific papers, but novels, collections of stories, or even memoirs? I challenge you to sign up for #nanowrimo as it is called on Twitter. Let’s make each other write!

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Farewell #Sciox

Oct 10 2014 Published by under Societies and Meetings

Science Online announced its dissolution yesterday. This makes me sad; I learned a lot from this conference. However, I am not surprised at this outcome.

Science Online 2014 failed to attract a number of professional writers that attended earlier versions of the unconference. I learned a lot from these people, especially about the craft and tools of writing. As a physician-scientist, I had reasonable writing skills, but little knowledge of the nuts and bolts of publishing.

  • The response of the organization to the scandal of 2013 was tone-deaf at best. Many of us at the 2014 conference were disturbed by this response.
  • I was disappointed in 2014 that no sessions featured medical or health related topics; for 2015, they selected no topics in advance. I was not willing to send in the bucks when it was not clear what was on the program.
  • Frankly, they lost my participation when they announced Atlanta as the 2015 location. I had just been to a meeting in that city, and I had no interest in returning anytime soon. I really, really hate that airport as well.
  • The writing was on the wall when the conference failed to fill this fall. In the past, slots were gone within minutes of opening. When I read the list of participants a month ago, I saw none of the regulars who might have convinced me to go, including the writers I had met and learned from at earlier events. The group always needed to include new blood, but a cadre of prior participants with institutional memory really made things flow.

These events are bittersweet; one could argue that the book I published this week would not have happened with the information and insights gleaned at Science Online. I will miss the people I met along the way.

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My New Baby

Oct 09 2014 Published by under Learning

What do you call 100 babies in a single litter?

What do you call 100 babies in a single litter?

Hard copies arrived! My new book, The Promotion Game, arrived in a big box.

I never realized how proud I would feel to see my work in print and hold it in my hands.

It's almost like giving birth to something, except without the blood.

If you are interested in succeeding in academic medicine, this book may be for you. You can get more information here.

Ebooks are expected to be available soon on Amazon and the other usual venues.

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High Stakes Games

Oct 08 2014 Published by under Learning

Too many new faculty in academic medicine get lost.

They sign on with academic medical centers with the best intentions. They want to inspire the next generation of providers. They want to solve healthcare problems. They hope to make the world a better place.

Unfortunately, academic medicine provides many distractions.

Unlike our PhD colleagues*, we MDs often fail to teach our trainees anything about academic life. I came from an academic family. I knew about ranks and tenure and other issues, but I still didn't really know how to succeed in The Ivory Tower. Someone gave me the Faculty Handbook, including promotion and tenure (P&T) guidelines, when I showed up at my first job.

Yes, I wrote it all down!

Yes, I wrote it all down!

Have you ever read a faculty handbook? Have you ever tried to read a faculty handbook? These documents tend to be written with stilted dry language. The handbook for an entire campus also keeps things vague enough that it applies to all departments and sections; this provides little guidance for a new assistant professor. You have to find contacts who can give you the real dirt. How many papers are considered "a significant number?" What sort of funding counts toward the tally? Will case reports be held against you? How do you document your educational efforts?

Mentorship helps (those contacts described above). P&T workshops with department-specific information can help. Unfortunately, none of these can be used as a lasting reference. Clinician faculty, in particular, often lose sight of their goal. Patient care responsibilities and other tasks can distract them from achieving and documenting the things that matter for academia. They get a few years into their first appointment and discover that they are behind the eight ball. Many leave academic medicine at this point.

That's why I have written down wisdom collected from multiple institutions and many colleagues. I have tried to keep this brief guide chatty and useful, rather than an academic tome. Yes, it is vague in that it gives no specifics for any institution; however, it does help faculty members know what to ask their colleagues and mentors.

When you get down to it, P&T is really a game. You have rules, you reach milestones, you keep score, and eventually you can win.

Yes, this is my Big Surprise. The book is debuting soon, both in print and as an ebook. Learn more at the website,

*Instead, our PhD colleagues prepare everyone for an academic career, even though we know there are not enough positions for every trainee and many will have to pursue careers outside of The Ivory Tower.

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