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How It Started. How It's Going: An Interview With Rebecca Andrews, MD, FACP, Chair, ACP Board of Governors
Marilyn Katz, MD, FACP (MK): How did you initially get involved in ACP?
Rebecca Andrews, MD, FACP (RA): I started as a student member and then continued because I like having a professional home that I can take with me wherever I work. The rest was really serendipitous and shows you the effect of one person reaching out. The person I took over for when starting my first job out of residency invited me to a few Connecticut Chapter ACP meetings. This led to my eventually accepting a leadership role as Co-Chair of Connecticut's Early Career Physician's Council.
MK: Why have you stayed involved?
RA: The practice of medicine has numerous issues plaguing it that can frustrate a physician in their daily work. The College has shown the foresight that burnout is not going away and that we needed support for physicians but also real substantial change along so many lines. It is these changes that will make the difference. For me, the ACP has provided a constant opportunity to work on shaping the future of medicine, which has kept me energized and helped prevent any personal burnout. I like seeing changes to medicine that I have helped influence that will impact my practice now but also benefit future physicians and patients.
MK: Did you ever anticipate becoming Chair of the Board of Governors?
RA: No. It took the push of a few mentors to change my point of view. One pointed out that I had leadership qualities that would lend themselves well to various positions within ACP and forced me to do some self-reflection. Mentorship is so important. I have always sought out mentors along the way, which was important to me, but I wasn't expecting to be in a leadership role myself. I would not have run without these individuals encouraging me to pursue this position.
MK: Some people find it difficult to find a mentor. What is your process?
RA: I look for people who are happy and seem to be managing the challenge of life in medicine. For me, it is not just one person whom I connect with but multiple people. I look for specific traits (adaptability, transparency, kindness, creative problem-solving) in individuals who I admire. I am drawn to individuals who seek honest feedback on what can be improved and are committed to engaging in dialogue. These are the same individuals who will ask for my opinion on any topic of conversation, even when I am/was the most inexperienced, youngest, etc. person in the room. I have been fortunate that these mentors have done more than counsel and discuss but have also suggested my name for real growth opportunities. Sponsorship from these individuals has also been a huge part of my success, but it started off as mentorship and grew from there.
MK: Where do you want to go from here?
RA: Not sure! This position as Chair of the BOG has been so rewarding already. It really aligned with my skills in leadership as an assistant program director and expanded them. I would love to harness my viewpoint and experience as a past Governor and Chair into a conduit of information to the Board of Regents in the role of a Regent. I know I don't feel “done,” but I haven't really thought about exactly what I'll do next. I am enjoying leadership and hope to continue to be active in medicine's future within and outside of ACP.
MK: What advice do you have for ECPs?
RA: You're just entering medicine, so make your voice heard. Your ideas are valuable, and you want to help create the most functional environment in which to practice medicine. For too long, physicians practiced without having an awareness or involvement outside their clinic or hospital setting. It is a wonderful calling but can take a lot from you physically, mentally, and spiritually. Find what reenergizes you—kids, teaching, volunteering, a professional society, and/or leadership—to sustain you.
Marilyn Katz, MD, FACP