Fellows: Career Profile

Dr. Mitch Rosner - Clinician Educator

Dr. Mitch Rosner

My academic career has largely fallen into the domain of a "clinician-educator." In retrospect, this career pathway now makes sense to me and while it might be nice to think that I followed a defined personal strategic plan, my ultimate decision was based upon a combination of trial and many errors as well as a realization of what my passions and strengths are.

What is a clinician-educator? Although no consensus exists, the essence of all definitions includes the concept of an outstanding clinician, who is also a dedicated teacher. In many institutions, clinician-educators are recognized by specific career tracks associated with criteria for promotion and tenure. In most of these tracks, career advancement is dependent upon demonstrating excellence in clinical activities (through productivity, differentiating clinical programs, referral patterns or other metrics that merit recognition) as well as excellence in education (teaching awards, teaching evaluations, involvement in regional and national teaching activities and many others). Most institutions also require some demonstration of scholarship through publication and research.

While these specific requirements are the practical reality for the clinical-educator, there is also a larger philosophical and personal element to devoting one’s career along this pathway. For me, my core values as a physician included elements that fit best within this career track. Going through medical school, graduate school and residency I learned that several things appealed to me: first and foremost is a love for patient care and second was a passion for teaching. I also loved the academic model and academic medical center where decisions were analyzed, questioned and researched. Furthermore, the most influential role models for me were those who were outstanding clinicians and educators. It was these physicians that I wanted to emulate. Finally, while I initially believed that a more traditional research career may be my "calling", I learned that I did not have the patience and specific analytical skills that were required for success in this pathway.

Thus, I embarked on a clinician-educator pathway. This, in retrospect, was one of the best decisions of my career. I now serve as a fellowship and associate residency director, mentor for many students, course director as well as serving on several national committees focused on education in medicine. This is coupled with an active clinical practice and significant administrative responsibilities. Certainly, no two days are every the same. I am struck by the continued challenges, and opportunities that present the clinician-educator and the vital importance of this role in medicine.

What are the required elements to be a successful clinician-educator? Most importantly, you need to have a love for patient care and for the subject matter. Without this passion, you can not excite learners and you can not be an outstanding role model. You must be dedicated to find learning opportunities at every turn and you must be dedicated to the growth and development of your learners. This last aspect has proven to be the most gratifying aspect of my career. While researchers can measure their success with grants and publications, the clinician-educator measures their success by the success of their students (not that this is not important to the researcher as well). Nothing is more gratifying to hear that you have made a difference in the life of a student.

What would I recommend to those thinking about a career as a clinician-educator? First, find a role model that can guide you through the process. This means guidance through specific institutional requirements as well as guidance as to where you should place your efforts. Second, begin to develop a focus and a means to demonstrate excellence. For me, this meant focusing on graduate medical education as well as fluid and electrolyte disorders. Third, get involved in your institution’s educational and clinical administrative structure and work towards leadership positions. Finally, stay passionate about your career. The clinician-educator pathway is a wonderful, engaging and rewarding career.