Interview with Dr. Katherine Chen: Medical Doctor, Mentor, Mother and Mensch

Dr. Katherine Chen is an Associate Professor and Vice Chair of Education for the Obstetrics/Gynecology Department at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai . She also directs the third year medical student six-week Obstetrics/Gynecology clerkship. Recognized for her excellence in teaching through various awards at Harvard Medical School and Columbia University, her most recent honor in 2012 is the Mount Sinai Institute of Medical Education Excellence in Teaching award. She was also a faculty member AOA inductee in 2010.

The Rossi editor-in-chief had a chance to sit down with Dr. Chen and discuss her philosophies on teaching, as well as her life as a physician, mother and book enthusiast.

Q: What attracted you to Mount Sinai?

I came here specifically for an administrative position in education. Prior to that, I was at Columbia University on an NIH grant, primarily doing research – 75% research, 25% clinical. Then I had a midlife crisis and decided I wanted to focus more on education. I’m very grateful to my chair Dr. Brodman for offering me the position and for supporting me in my endeavors.

Q: What was this midlife crisis?

I always knew I had a knack for teaching, even while I was a resident. But at that time, I had gotten advice that to advance in the academic world, you needed to be a clinical expert with productive research activities. So I went down that path first. I spent several years focusing on Obstetric Infectious Diseases, gathering clinical research skills, and performing studies. When I turned 40, I realized that the projects I enjoyed most were the ones I did with students and residents. I couldn’t get away from teaching.

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Welcome to The Rossi: Medical Education Quarterly

In medicine, as with other fields, developing effective leaders and educators is essential to our profession.  Teaching is a vital role of all physicians, and good teaching directly improves patient care. Similar to other aspects of medical practice, becoming an effective teacher requires training and experience. An increasing number of medical students, residents, and practicing physicians are seeking advanced training in education to provide them with a conceptual and scholarly foundation for their educational responsibilities, and to enhance their leadership potential and increase their effectiveness in their profession.

 Mount Sinai’s Institute for Medical Education (IME) serves the vital need for creating, educating, mentoring and retaining the best educators for our students, residents and faculty. Fostering the success of our educators includes recognizing and rewarding those who display dedication and excellence in their work, and providing programs that develop and reinforce their scholarship, teaching skills and successful promotion.

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