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Medical Education
Center for Faculty Educators

Surprises, Wisdom, and Challenges: A Post-visit Interview with Dr. Aviad Haramati

Adi Haramati, PhDDr. Adi Haramati is Professor of Physiology and Director of the Center for Innovation and Leadership in Education at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He recently visited UCSF as the keynote speaker for the Academy of Medical Educators 2017 New Member Celebration. He has had a long-term interest in the intersection of science, mind-body medicine, and professionalism. I had a chance to interview Dr. Haramati after his trip to UCSF to capture some of his reflections – and wisdom.

By Peter Chin-Hong, MD


PCH: What surprised you during your last trip to UCSF?

AH: First, I was surprised by the size of the audience at the AME induction event. That was fantastic. To have a crowd says a lot about the culture at UCSF. I expected the Dave Irbys, the Catherine Luceys and the Pat O’Sullivans, but the fact that other senior leadership came made a big statement about values in the institution. The next thing was that I was surprised by was how young some of the inductees were. This meant that they were already able to make a commitment to medical education and that they had an opportunity to be nurtured along the way.

PCH: What pearls do you have for new medical educator faculty? 

AH: My number one pearl if you are a new faculty member is to get a mentor. At UCSF you are very lucky because you have outstanding mentors, some real superstars. The other pearl is to find your passion within medical education, just like in the clinical or basic science research fields. Harness that passion and build on it. You might be surprised with what you find.

PCH: At UCSF and other schools, there are several communities of practice that cater to medical educators. What specific role should an Academy of Medical Educators have? 

AH: The Academy plays a central role. It is the engine that drives the academic mission for education. Recognizing that the Academy is the engine also allows for promotion and advancement. The Academy can help actualize the vision set by each of the schools.

PCH: Are medical educators at higher risk of burnout than other faculty?

AH: I think in some ways medical educators are actually protected. Having learners you are engaged with all the time is a constant reminder of why we are doing what we are doing. These learners tend to be very smart, eager, and excited. Also, we are always given opportunities to do things differently – it is always new, interesting and never rote. In fact, medical education could be a way in which faculty in general could reduce the risk of burnout.

PCH: What are some of the future challenges that UCSF and other medical schools will face? Where do we go from here?

AH: I think we are grappling with how best to combine new technology with learning. We can bring in new ways of efficiently engaging students, but at the same time, we must not lose the humanistic connections. I still think the most effective engagement we have is face-to-face. When you are trying to inspire and role model, that has to happen through face-to-face contact. We are also all struggling together regarding individualization of training and helping trainees develop professional identity. These are all critical issues today.

PCH: Thanks for spending some time talking with me today Adi. Any parting words of wisdom?

AH: I think that technology has contributed to our lack of self-care because of our inability to shut off. Let’s not lose sight of our own self-care.