Match Day and a timely reminder to invest in our people 

Dear Colleagues,

As spring arrives and pandemic restrictions begin to recede, I’m encouraged to see that our medical campus is, in many ways, back in bloom. Two weeks ago, our graduating VP&S students celebrated one of the most cherished traditions of medical school: The Match. Nearly 150 members of the VP&S Class of 2022 gathered—together in person for the first time since 2019—to learn where they will go for their residency. It was heartening to see so many smiles as students opened their Match envelopes alongside family and friends, and to hear Lisa Mellman, MD, senior associate dean for student affairs at VP&S, share her reflections on this remarkable class.

These students faced unique challenges in the lead-up to their Match. Due to the pandemic, they had completed only two clerkships of their Major Clinical Year before in-person clinical learning came to a pause. Their residency interviews were conducted entirely online and, in many cases, students were choosing their top residency choices from cities and campuses they had never seen in person. But in a year of unknowns, the outcome was terrific, as outstanding programs across the country welcomed this resilient cohort for the next phase of their medical training. The day was an apt reward for a class so heavily involved in the pandemic response. Dr. Mellman commended the graduates for their activism, their advocacy, and their humanism during an incredibly challenging period in our shared history, and I share in her proud celebration of the VP&S Class of 2022.

The Match represents the culmination of so many people’s hard work. Our deans, faculty members, and department staff all play a part in helping our students develop and navigate their pathways to a career in medicine. At our Match Day reception, I spoke with Bill Levine, MD, chair of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at VP&S, who helps prepare students interested in orthopedics for their Match. Residency programs in orthopedics have always been incredibly competitive, with an immense cohort of students applying for a very limited number of opportunities around the country. Since joining VP&S in 1998, Dr. Levine has taken a hands-on approach to mentorship—a contact sport approach, if you will—that engages students early and stewards them on their path to Match Day. VP&S students interested in orthopedics receive access to invaluable mentorship opportunities that help them develop their scholarly productivity. Since Dr. Levine’s arrival, those efforts have resulted in a 98% match rate among VP&S students applying for orthopedics residencies. This year was another major success, as eight out of eight students matched with phenomenal orthopedics departments around the country. I wish all of our VP&S Class of 2022 graduates well and offer my heartfelt congratulations, both to the students themselves and to everyone who supported them on their journey.

Of course, that journey doesn’t end at residency training. A career in health care and science is synonymous with continuing education, and our own faculty understand the importance of lifelong learning. Seeing our graduating medical students take this next step provides a timely reminder of how important it is to invest in our people and their continued growth. Faculty across the medical center have many career development opportunities available to them through their departments and through the CUIMC Office of Academic Affairs led by Anne Taylor, MD, senior vice president for faculty affairs and career development. In a recent conversation, Dr. Taylor shared with me how important it is that we not only support our faculty’s success in productivity, but also in satisfaction. Whether your work lies in research, education, or clinical care—or in many cases, some combination of all three—we want to help you become an expert in your field and find satisfaction in your work.

A core component of that satisfaction lies in professional development opportunities—ensuring that all faculty have equal access to the knowledge and resources required to advance their careers. When Dr. Taylor joined the faculty in 2007, the medical center had no formal structure for faculty development programs. Dean Emeritus Lee Goldman, MD, recruited her to correct that. Dr. Goldman recognized that to be a leading academic medical center, you have to invest in your human capital at every step along the way. Over the past 15 years, Dr. Taylor and Clara Lapiner, MPH, have worked closely with our faculty in developing a robust slate of career development offerings. Those include mentoring, guidance on tenure and promotion, sponsorship activities, early-career and mid-career leadership development, management training, and skill-building workshops.

This kind of support reaches faculty all across the medical center, and it has been especially critical to supporting our research mission and stabilizing the investigator pipeline throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the direction of Muredach Reilly, MBBCh, MSCE, the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research remains a leader among more than 50 Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) hubs across the country. The Institute supports all phases of clinical and translational science and accelerates discoveries from the lab bench to the patient bedside. Last June, the Institute received its fourth consecutive CTSA grant, with a perfect overall score from the NIH review committee. The five-year, $61.7M grant provides funding through 2026 and is one of the largest ever to CUIMC.

The institute’s success can be attributed, in part, to its full pipeline of education and training for researchers and a suite of development programs for allied research professionals provided by the TRANSFORM Resource. Some of TRANSFORM’s offerings include the Irving Scholars Program and the Reach for the First R01 Workshop. As TRANSFORM director and associate dean of research and career development, Daichi Shimbo, MD, prepares clinical and translational researchers to lead interdisciplinary teams across a broad spectrum of impactful projects. TRANSFORM also includes the KL2 Mentored Career Development Award, a mentorship program for junior faculty (led by co-director Jeanine Genkinger, PhD), and the TL1 Training Programs for doctoral students and postdocs (led by co-directors Marissa Spann, PhD, MPH, and Jacquelyn Taylor, PhD, RN). All together, these programs ensure that CUIMC will remain at the leading edge of research and discovery for clinical research.

Professional development programming also extends to our staff, who are critical to our shared success. CUIMC Human Resources, with the support of Morningside Human Resources and our Faculty Practice Organization, offer a variety of learning and development opportunities. Those include on-the-job professional development, leadership and management courses, coaching and mentoring, and skill-building workshops. Programs are available in the classroom and online through LinkedIn Learning. We owe our thanks to Bill Innes, chief human resources officer, along with the HR teams at CUIMC, the FPO, and Morningside for their support as we adapted to a new working paradigm during the pandemic. I would also like to thank Bill for agreeing to stay on into the new year to ensure a smooth transition for his eventual successor.

As we celebrate our medical school graduates entering the next phase of their professional journey, I encourage our faculty and staff to consider the next step on their own path and to pursue every avenue for reaching their full potential. I welcome your continuous feedback as we refine our programming to support your success. These programs not only ensure that Columbia remains among the very best scientific and medical institutions in the world today, they also steward the growth of every person who helps our community maintain that reputation and our ability to serve communities near and far. As we reflect on the challenges of the past two years, I am reminded of my favorite Merlin line from T.H. White’s “The Once and Future King”: “The best thing for being sad... is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails.” I encourage all of you to continue learning and to use every available resource to reach your full potential. Your success is our success, and we will do everything we possibly can to help you achieve it. 

All my best,

Katrina Armstrong, MD 
Chief Executive Officer, Columbia University Irving Medical Center 
Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons