The Awards Subcommittee of the Education Committee is pleased to highlight this past years’ SGIM Education Award Winners! Each award recipient shares the inspirations, triumphs, and challenges that contributed to their impressive achievements.

Diane B. Wayne, MD: Career Achievement Award for Medical Education. What inspired you to pursue a career in medical education?

I have been fortunate to have several wonderful role models who inspired my love of medical education. The first was my father, Eugene Bronstein, who was a pioneer in the field of radiation oncology. His life was forever changed when he was able to enroll in medical school in 1944 while on active duty in the U.S. Navy during WWII. He taught me the power of education and how it changes lives and future generations for the better. The second inspiration occurred in residency. As a resident at the University of Chicago in the early 1990s, I treasured the academic atmosphere and supportive culture shaped by Drs. Arthur Rubenstein and Holly Humphrey. I learned about the balance between setting high expectations and providing encouragement and support for trainees, and vowed to emulate it in my future career.

What career accomplishments are you most proud of?

When I was the internal medicine residency program director at Northwestern, we came up with a catchphrase for our program that our residents were “nice, hardworking, and smart.” Historically there has been a lot of emphasis in medicine on multiple choice examinations and memorizing facts. Yet, medicine today is a team sport that requires excellent communication skills and the ability to work collaboratively with others. Each year I am more and more convinced that rewarding kindness, compassion, helping out a colleague and simply being “nice” are critical to developing our trainees and creating optimal learning environments that allow everyone to thrive. While I am proud of career achievements and awards, I hope to be remembered for emphasizing “nice” as a cornerstone of individual behavior and the learning environment.

Can you describe one of your biggest professional challenges and how you approached it?

No matter how much experience you have, leading through change is always difficult. I have tried to approach this professional challenge with transparency, clarity, and consistency. I find that taking the time to discuss “why we are doing this” is critical to success. Team members may have differing views and adapting to the pace of change can be challenging. Leaders must understand this and take the time needed to thoughtfully consider additional viewpoints and perspectives.

Do you have any other wisdom to share?

I’m so grateful for the wonderful opportunities I have had as a medical educator, hospital administrator and academic collaborator. I was taught early that a diverse team is the strongest team—whether in research, clinical care, or education. I encourage all of us to broaden our circles, incorporate new perspectives and ideas, and listen thoughtfully to our students and trainees so we can continue to improve the quality of medical education and its downstream impact on patient care outcomes.

Jennifer Corbelli, MD: Mid-Career Medical Education Mentorship Award. What is your Mentor Origin story?

I started as a mentor when I was a chief resident. This was when I learned how to approach mentoring—when do you need help from others to help your mentees? who needs follow-up? A lot of breadth and occasional depth. In my VA Women’s Health fellowship, I received incredibly valuable training in mentorship, and I also had outstanding mentorship. That helped me think about my practice and I transitioned from “winging it” as a chief.

Before becoming a program director, my mentorship roles were easier and simpler in a way. Now, I work with 180 residents. It’s a dual challenge: For some normal mentorship stuff (imposter syndrome, attending difficulties, career advice) people are less likely to feel comfortable coming to me, and people with serious problems or who are struggling in residency are more likely to come to me. Even though I have fewer of the 1:1 relationships, my mentorship work now looks like when I was a chief, but amplified. It’s rewarding to be a part of that.

How have you continued to grow as a mentor?

One change I’ve had recently is that I’ve realized the effect that being a program director has on my mentees and trainees’ relationship with me. In my second year, I was on service with a very confident resident, and, at the end of the 2 weeks, they said it was hard because, as the program director, it’s intimidating to work with me. Now, I’m aware (that trainees may view me as intimidating or hierarchical) and I manage it, but it took some time for me to adjust and encourage people to see me in a way they can utilize me as a mentor. I have had some people go on academic probation, or fall ill, and I’ve been worried about them—and then you see them make it and thrive! It’s been rewarding in a new way. It feels like a tremendous privilege.

What advice do you have for people who want to become (better) mentors?

Mentorship is like anything else; it’s a skill you develop. The experiences I had [being a chief resident, additional training in fellowship] are valuable but not necessary. Some of my best mentors have done neither of those things. So much of it is being available, engaged, and interested. Think through what you can offer. I also often see junior people not realize the value they have. So, you aren’t a full professor—you still have experience and wisdom. And by caring, by being available, by drawing on your experiences, you can have tremendous value. Think about people who mentored you well. Ask people! I ask people for advice all the time.

Adam Sawatsky, MD: Scholarship in Medical Education Award. What inspired you to pursue a research career in medical education?

I knew I wanted to be a general internist, and the internists I admired in medical school at the University of Pittsburgh were all medical educators, so it just seemed natural. During internship, a senior suggested doing a research elective as a way to have time to chill—and then I realized I actually had to do research! I struggled with (my first) project for 3 years trying to figure out how to do qualitative research, but when I finally published it, it was a really satisfying.

My current research in professional identify formation came partially from being a clinician educator, engaging with residents, and trying to reconcile both our struggles. In the end, being a clinician educator and medical education researcher link so beautifully; my research directly applies to my day to day.

What advice would you give to junior clinician educators interested in pursuing a similar career?

You can’t do it all (as much as you love to think you can!). I had a lot of aspirations, and it’s taken me a while to hone what I really want to spend my time on. For instance, I took on some administrative leadership roles within the residency program, which I loved because it connected me more to the residents. But, I didn’t love that the administrative work took away time from the research that I really enjoyed. So recently I took a different position overseeing the medical education research being done in our resident continuity clinic. This aligned my skills and passions in medical education research with my desire to have a leadership role in the program. Some of this was serendipity, but also came from reflecting on how to align my passions and my goals.

Can you describe one of your biggest professional challenges and how you approached it?

One of the biggest challenges in medical education research is finding time and funding. Many avenues to support my work were one-year timeframes and linked to specific projects. As I’ve learned over the years, having one year to complete a research project is impossible. Having mentors who helped me navigate those challenges has been invaluable. They’ve advocated for me to find other funded time with more flexibility than my previous funding sources. This allowed me to finish up some of my prior projects and finally have the space to think about starting new projects on my own.

Do you have any other wisdom to share?

I can’t overemphasize the importance of getting training in research. Those first years on staff are hard, especially trying to jumpstart a research career, and doing the fellowship gave me two years of protected time to think about my professional development. If you want to do medical education research or leadership, I strongly recommend doing a fellowship and getting a master’s in medical education because it gave me the tools to be productive and get to where I am now. 



Advocacy, Career Development, Hospital-based Medicine, Leadership, Administration, & Career Planning, Medical Education, SGIM

Author Descriptions

Dr. Lee (, Twitter @WeiWeiLeeMD) is an associate professor and associate dean of professional development and engagement at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. Dr. Kiefer (, Twitter @meghanmkiefer) is an associate professor and director of educational experience at University of Washington School of Medicine. Dr. Szymanski (, Twitter @eva_szy) is a second–year resident in the Internal Medicine-Primary Care program at the University of Pennsylvania. All co-authors are SGIM Education Committee members.