Jennifer Kogan, MD, FACP, on falling in love with internal medicine and the importance of mentorships


Jennifer Kogan, MD, FACP
Professor of Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA

Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

What is your current position?

I am a Professor of Medicine and the Associate Dean for Student Success and Professional Development at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. As an Associate Dean, I develop coaching programs for students and oversee our elective curriculum.

Where did you attend medical school and postgrad training?

I attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania and stayed at Penn for my internal medicine residency and fellowship.

Why did you choose to become a physician?

I did not even consider being a physician until halfway through college when I took a biological psychology course and found it fascinating. This led to an interest in neuroscience and in becoming a child psychiatrist. I entered medicine not so much because of a love of science but more a desire to provide patient care.

What field of internal medicine did you select and why?

As I mentioned, I entered medical school thinking I wanted to be a child psychiatrist. However, during my core clerkship year, I very unexpectedly fell in love with internal medicine. I really enjoyed the application of pathophysiology, clinical reasoning, and decision making, particularly in patients with multiple medical comorbidities. I was inspired by the relationships that internists had with their patients. I entered residency thinking that I would specialize in pulmonary critical care. However, mid residency I realized that I wanted to be a primary care general internist. There is so much that I love about outpatient general medicine: meaningful longitudinal relationships with patients over time; history taking, physical exams, and engaging in clinical reasoning to determine next steps; thinking holistically about patients; and focusing not just on disease treatment but also disease prevention and maintenance of health.

Please describe a typical day in your practice.

Because of my academic responsibilities, I currently see patients 2 half days per week in the ambulatory/outpatient setting. Most patients are those that I have known a long time (20 years), but I also see some urgent patients that are new to me.

What are some of your special interests professionally?

I am interested in medical student education, curriculum development, and assessment of clinical skills. I am interested in how we can help faculty to improve their skills as teachers, particularly when it comes to giving learners feedback. I do research in learner assessment and feedback.

What are your interests and hobbies outside of medicine?

I love spending time with my husband and my twin daughters who are freshman in college. I like talking walks, hiking outdoors, and baking.

What advice would you like to share with medical students, or what do you wish someone would have told you while you were in medical school?

My advice is to keep an open mind as you journey through medicine, because there may be pathways that you haven't considered that would be a great fit. I believe in the importance of mentorship and finding at least one mentor that you meet with regularly to discuss your goals and how to achieve them. Also, our lives are super busy, so make sure you take care of yourself physically and emotionally.

Which living person do you most admire?

Such a hard question, but I am a diehard Michelle Obama fan.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I wish I could sing better than I can.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Definitely my daughters!

What is your motto?

Just because you don't accomplish something as fast as others doesn't mean you won't be as successful in the long run.

Back to the November 2020 issue of ACP IMpact

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