Candidate Statements

President Elect

Lavjay Butani, MD

I am honored and humbled to be considered for the position of President-elect of COMSEP. COMSEP has been and will always be my family, my community, my mentor, my friend, and my greatest source of inspiration. From the day that I embarked on my journey in medical education, countless COMSEPers have welcomed and embraced me and lifted me up when I have faltered… without question and without doubt…. and have supported me both professionally and personally. I owe you all for who I am and where I am and hope to give back to my community in any way possible. Being the Chair of the Grants committee for many years and more recently serving on the Executive Committee of COMSEP has brought me greater insight and awareness into our strengths and the potential that remains untapped.  I will give to COMSEP what it wants and what it needs, and do so by listening and by hoping to inspire everyone to mentor and support each other and to be responsive to our changing needs and identity; and at the same time collaborate and build bridges with the many other organizations that have education as their primary mission.

Jennifer Christner, MD

Jenny Christner – Blurb for President-Elect – April 6, 2021

Passion. Fun. Educators. Dancing. Mad Skill. Community. These are just a few of the words that I think personify COMSEP.

My journey with COMSEP began in 2006. Over the years I have had the privilege of having numerous leadership roles in the organization – from Chairing the Faculty Development SIG (there may be a video on Orienting Learners on the Resource page…), giving workshops- including helping with the New Clerkship Director Preconference Workshop, helping select workshops for the annual meetings, being a part of the mentoring program and assisting a new colleague in kickstarting her research program,  to most recently helping launch the brand new Wellness Collaborative as a Co-Chair – I’ve loved giving back to the organization that I truly credit with helping me achieve the success that I’ve been so fortunate to enjoy. While participating in national leadership roles with COMSEP, the APA, AAMC, ACE and the LCME, I have also been a clerkship director, program director, assistant dean, associate dean and then “the” dean. I’m also an entrepreneur with my own company. However - as you learn in leadership or as a CEO – it’s not about your journey. It’s about serving the needs of others by never assuming you know what those needs are and always being curious/asking questions.  As a leader your job is to select team members with incredible potential and then pave the way for them to achieve their destination and one that you hope and pray far exceeds your own. So too with COMSEP, I believe that as the next President, I can continue the trajectory of this amazing organization and listen to, then lead our members to greater heights. As I review COMSEP’s mission, guiding principles and strategic plan, I see many potential ways my skills are in synergy with the organization’s goals and will allow me to serve the membership. I will speak to a few of those that relate directly to the strategic plan, particularly Professional Development, Scholarship and Collaboration. I would like to see COMSEP members (administrators, faculty, students etc.) take advantage of professional development opportunities beyond those offered at our annual meeting and learn about principles such as creating a personal brand and using technology/big data to advance both our careers and learner outcomes. I would like to see COMSEP members leading inter-institutional, inter-clerkship disciplines research on best practices in education pedagogy. We have seen emergency medicine and ob/gyn make some bold moves around residency interviewing. Are there lessons learned? Where can we collaborate? Where can we lead? Additionally, with recent changes to Step exams, now is the time to work with other national education organizations to determine what is important to retain regarding pediatric education skill assessment and how to standardize a national approach to teaching and assessing these skills/milestones. These are just a few examples I would like to explore and find what resonates with our members around making lasting impacts.

Innovators. Convention breakers. Rule makers. Collaborators. Achievers. Forever progressing and pushing the envelope. Pediatricians. We are COMSEP.

At large EC

Anton Alerte, MD

My name is Anton Alerte and I have the honor of being nominated to a position on the COMSEP Executive Committee. By way of introduction, I am a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and I have been a member of COMSEP since 2005. I am a director of pre-clinical doctoring courses at my home institution and have been active in teaching, scholarship and curricular development for over nineteen years.

I consider COMSEP my academic and familial home. To state that I would not be where I am or who I am today without COMSEP is not mere “election campaign” hyperbole. COMSEP has been the site of many of my memorable firsts (aside from my first kiss in college).

Academically, I conducted my first survey and obtained my first leadership position with the Learning Technology Task Force at COMSEP, I conducted my first workshop at COMSEP, I learned how to evaluate abstracts and posters with the Research and Scholarship Task Force at COMSEP. I learned how to create and present a poster at COMSEP. I learned how to do qualitative research at COMSEP. I published my first paper through COMSEP. I helped plan an international academic meeting (COMSEP, not ironically) at COMSEP and I learned about academic growth and planning a career path at COMSEP. Most importantly to me and my career, I learned how to teach here. I learned how to coach here (Thanks Dr. Fall!) and I learned how to mentor here.

COMSEP has also been my familial home. Outside of birth, marriage and genetics, I consider members of COMSEP my family. They are the only people I would dance in front of but more importantly they are the people who give me inspiration, a sense of purpose and a sense of belonging.

My first meeting was 2005. it was in Greensboro, North Carolina. It was my first ever meeting of any kind and I was very inexperienced, in a new place and with new people. That was also the first meeting after the loss of Drs. Miller and Sarkin, and I felt like I had walked into a family’s memorial service. I wasn’t sad, however. Indeed, I felt the loss. It was palpable and genuine and like the sound of gusts of wind blowing through the trees, it would rise up and then subside from time to time. I felt it but what I felt much, much more strongly was the joy, the joy of camaraderie, the joy of fellowship, the joy of teaching and the joy in learning. This is why COMSEP is special. Even in the dark when the times seem at their worst they are at their best. They are a bright light.

These days are not without their challenges. There is still a lot of dark out there and it would be an honor to help COMSEP “do its thing” and shine some light upon it for our students, our home institutions and for each other.

Gabrina Dixon, MD

I am excited to be nominated for the Executive Committee of COMSEP.  I have been a member of COMSEP for 8 years.  I am a pediatric hospital medicine attending and associate professor of pediatrics at Children’s National Hospital/George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington DC.  Also, I am an associate medical education director at Children’s National Hospital, specifically working as inpatient pediatric director for the Howard University College of Medicine students rotating at the hospital.  As a member of COMSEP, I presented workshop and poster presentations on teaching and assessing medical students clinical reasoning.  I am a contributor to the PedScripts application that was developed by the COMSEP Curriculum Task Force.  It is a web base and mobile application that is available in the apple app store.  I am the recipient of the 2015 COMSEP Richard T. Sarkin Foundation for Medical Education Grant.  As a result of this award, I was able to publish two papers: 1) Factors that Influence the Choice of Academic Pediatrics by Underrepresented Minorities (URM), Pediatrics 2019 and 2) Factors that Influence Underrepresented in Medicine Medical Students to Pursue a Career in Academic Pediatrics, Journal of the National Medical Association 2021.  Presently, I am a member of the COMSEP Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) action team.  I would love the opportunity to continue to work with the great members of COMSEP by becoming a part of the Executive Committee.

Christopher Golden, MD

Hello!  I am excited about the opportunity to run for a position on the COMSEP Executive Committee. I am an Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Though trained clinically as a neonatologist, I have worked in medical education throughout my faculty career, beginning with resident education in the NICU before delving into medical student education. Since 2017, I have served as Pediatric Core Clerkship Director at Hopkins and have worked on School of Medicine committees designing new teacher evaluation metrics and harmonizing medical student clinical assessment and remediation across the core clinical clerkships. In the past year, I have participated actively in revising the schoolwide clinical curriculum due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I also am a member of our school’s Educational Subcommittee that is preparing for our upcoming Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) accreditation visit. Within COMSEP, I am co-leader of the Core Clerkship Collaborative, which is working to provide resources for medical educators aligned with the revised 2019 Core Curriculum. As a member of the Annual Meeting Committee, I worked with amazing colleagues this year in preparing our first virtual meeting on an important topic, “Promoting Anti-Racism through Pediatric Medical Education.” Finally, I have been honored to serve as a member of COMSEP’s Pediatrics Item Writing and Review Group (with the NBME) and represent the organization in the revision of the Alliance for Clinical Education’s manuscript on clerkship director expectations. These activities have shown me the importance of pediatric medical educators in producing quality clinicians, educators, and researchers in child health. Furthermore, COMSEP has become my second academic home, providing me with excellent professional development and a cadre of like-minded friends and medical educators. If elected, I will work tirelessly to implement this outstanding organization’s Strategic Goals, including promotion of educational excellence in pediatrics and fostering relationships with other medical education organizations. I also would like to evaluate the impact of the organization’s major educational initiatives (including the Core Clerkship and Sub-Internship curricula) on learner performance and interest in pediatrics. Thank you for your consideration!

Corinne Lehmann, MD, MEd

Hello Happy COMSEPers! My name is Corki Lehmann. I have been the pediatric clerkship director in Cincinnati for about 10 years now. It has been a privilege to watch COMSEP take off as an independent organization in those years. I have been involved with COMSEP in various ways by serving as professional/faculty development collaborative chair, co-leading the group giving the clerkship director ABCs preconference workshop, and as meeting co-chair for the ill-fated 2020 Cincinnati meeting. I learned a lot listening to the COMSEP leadership call to cancel that meeting- the care and concern displayed for the members was impressive. It got me to thinking about doing more for COMSEP as it has been important in my life as my professional “home.” I have so enjoyed collaborating with my COMSEP colleagues on projects, workshops, and collaboratives. They have been a sounding board for the issues I face in my workplace and institution. I cannot imagine what life would have been like if COMSEPers had not been there for me!

As the digital age in teaching has fully arrived with COVID, I want to assist COMSEP in COVID recovery with taking a silver lining approach on how we can use what we have learned in the last year to further the mission of COMSEP. Some lessons I have learned are that our educators are resilient and clever, and that technology can be harnessed to improve the education of our students. COMSEP can expand our reach into technology to share ideas cross North America and the world in pediatric student education, if not all medical student education. I believe COMSEP should be the share point to connect and exchange ideas in real time as we go forward into the post-COVID era. I know our many collaboratives are wanting to share their materials and build education research, especially between meetings.

In our professional home, COMSEP can also foster faculty development and support our members on their academic journey. Changes in use of technology with virtual teaching in the pandemic and electronic medical records can lead to burnout. We need to band together to optimize these work flows for patient care, teaching our students, and for ourselves. We also must look out for each other and ensure all are getting treated and promoted in a fair and equitable manner. I am working with COMSEP leadership on a project to have “seasoned” COMSEP members write letters of recommendation that COMSEPers can use in their academic promotion process.  I also am glad to see and fully support COMSEP efforts for diversity, equity, and inclusion. There is so much work to do there as well. We are going into a new era no doubt. I think I took for granted that COMSEP would always be there, but the pandemic has shown that is faulty thinking.  It is up to all of us to make sure COMSEP will always be there for us.  I want to do my part now to help in the success of this wonderful organization.

Nominations and awards

Joseph Jackson, MD

I would consider it privilege to serve on the Nomination and Awards Committee.  Early in my professional career COMSEP provided a phenomenal foundation of professional collaboration and comradery.   After being “volun-told” to join the Conga line at my first COMSEP National meeting, I quickly learned that this organization is characterized by a true spirit of joy and passion which transfers to both our educational pursuits and in our care for one another.  It has been a gift to build relationships as a member of this organization over the course of a decade.   I continue engage heavily with the Research and Scholarship Collaborative and continue to benefit from the inspiring opportunities to join my COMSEP peers/peeps as we create and implement educational workshops, often sponsored by the Research and Scholarship Taskforce/Collaborative.

We are amid a unique moment in our lives as pediatric educators/administrators.  My hope is that our membership will continue to refine our efforts as we seek to support and promote the core values of our organization.    I see opportunities to serve on the committee as we strive to elevate the kind of leaders and award recipients that are worthy of celebration.   As we look toward embracing our core values of teamwork, professionalism, and humanism, I envision opportunities for the Nominations and Award committee to further promote those individuals who most embody these guiding principles.  Furthermore, this committee has a role in giving attention to the diversity of those being recognized which will ultimately allow us to thrive as a membership.  I look forward to helping this committee balance some of the traditions of our nomination processes while embracing the opportunities to reimagine how we can best identify and bring forward future leaders and those unsung heroes who are worthy of public recognition.

Maya Neeley, MD

Hello friends.

My name is Maya Neeley and I am so happy to have been nominated to the Nominations and Awards Committee. I am a Pediatric Hospitalist at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, the Associate Director of our Pediatrics clerkship, and a college mentor within the medical school, supporting students’ professional identity development and wellness. My clinical interests revolve around improving communication and conveying empathy at the bedside. My educational interests are focused on enhancing mentor/mentee relationships, helping the struggling learner, and creating an optimal learning environment.

I currently serve COMSEP on both the Wellness Collaborative and the DEI Action Team. Through these endeavors and workshop presentations at the annual meetings, I have been grateful for all that I have learned working in partnership with others in sharing ideas, experiences, and feedback.

One of my favorite parts of work and life is celebrating and supporting others. A question I have been sitting with for a long time is how do we better raise each other up? How do we ensure that every COMSEP member feels engaged as a valuable part of this group, and help position them for greater success?

As a member of the Nominations and Awards Committee, I hope to be thoughtful and deliberate about finding ways to do both; encouraging people of different backgrounds and life experiences to bring unique ideas to our organization and honoring people who lead in our endeavors of teaching, scholarship, and administration within pediatric clerkship education.  COMSEP has become my academic home and my favorite aspect is the collaborative spirit and welcoming kindness that I saw from my very first meeting. In my role on this committee I hope to continue in that tradition.

Thank you for your consideration!

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