ALUMNI NEWS | A Snapshot of Graduates’ Different Teaching Career Pathways
Some of our graduates begin teaching appointments right out of residency. Others start out as professors, matriculate mid-career from one of our fellowship programs, and move on to another teaching role. Each alum has a different career path. We spotlight just a few whose careers are notable for various reasons: ever unique, always inspiring.
Dr. Justesen is the program director for our North Memorial Family Medicine Residency Program—the same residency program she graduated from nearly 20 years ago. Dr. Justesen offered us a glimpse into why she chose the academic path.
"I was in private practice doing full-spectrum family medicine for almost 12 years after I graduated residency. This was a wonderful experience, and I had very fulfilling relationships with patients, families, and my colleagues. However, I found I missed the energy and pace of the learning environment, specifically University of Minnesota Physicians Broadway Family Medicine Clinic, and that is what drew me back to academics. Also, there is no place better than the UMN for family medicine!
"Looking back at how residency has changed over the years, I would say the entire medical system is much more complex than when I was a resident. Residents are having to learn a lot more than just medical knowledge and how to interact with patients.
"To any newly graduated residents or fellows who are beginning a faculty role, I would tell them that nobody knows it all and nobody expects you to know it all. Faculty are constantly bouncing ideas and thoughts off each other. Be open to life-long learning and collaboration."
Dr. Pereira will begin a role as professor in the UMN Department of Medicine this fall. She completed a Hospice and Palliative Medicine fellowship in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health in June 2021.
"My entry into the academic path happened long before my fellowship in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health. After I completed medical school, I went to Hennepin County Medical Center for residency in internal medicine.
"I really admired my educational mentors, some of whom are still good friends and mentors now, this far into my career. I was excited about pursuing academic medicine, mostly for the clinician-educator pathway. That, plus my interest in program development, leadership, and a critical review of the work that we're doing, all made me choose to pursue an academic general medicine fellowship at the Harvard system, which I did after residency.
"I then had the good fortune of being recruited to come back and run the medicine residency at Hennepin. Throughout it all, my primary driver was the desire to give back. I also enjoy having that in-the-moment, professional satisfaction of helping to make a difference for an individual patient as well as the opportunity to zoom out and think about how to contribute to the education of future physicians."
Dr. Roberts is practically an institution unto himself, having graduated from UMN Medical Center Family Medicine Residency Program about 40 years ago. A longtime faculty at St. John's Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program and world-recognized authority in sports medicine, Dr. Roberts shares why he decided to become a teacher.
"As a family medicine resident at the University of Minnesota, I saw the impact of teachers on students. It seemed like something I would like to do, so while I was a resident I got my master's in family medicine and community health as part of the DFMCH faculty development program. One of my projects won the resident research award in 1981.
"I planned to gain experience in private practice for five years and then come back as faculty. I was having fun in practice—and five years stretched to 22. At age 50, when a spot opened up at St. John's Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program, I decided to make the switch. This was a difficult decision since I had a busy practice with lots of patients who had become friends. I did want to teach, and I wanted more time to do research and publish. The change was a bit scary but worth the butterflies, because I have the best of all worlds in my current position.
"For any new faculty, I would say you will learn more in your first year teaching than you did in the last seven. Take advantage of the faculty development opportunities from the department and the medical school. Take advantage of your senior faculty; there is a tremendous knowledge base and history under the gray hair (and those without gray hair too). Don't feel like you have to know it all. I always find the best three words are 'I don't know.' Patients and residents like doctors who are human."
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