February 10, 2020

Honoring Excellence: Q and A with 2020 ACGME Awardee Karen Broquet, MD, MHPE

This interview is one in a series of interviews with recipients of the 2020 ACGME Awards. The awardees join an outstanding group of previous honorees whose work and contributions to graduate medical education (GME) represent the best in the field. They will be honored at the upcoming ACGME Annual Educational Conference, taking place February 27-29 in San Diego, California.

Parker J. Palmer Courage to Lead Awardee Karen Broquet, MD, MHPE is the associate dean for graduate medical education and designated institutional official (DIO) at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.

ACGME: How did you become involved in medicine, and in academic medicine specifically?

Broquet: None of my relatives were physicians, and it was not something I seriously considered until college, as I was investigating what to do with a degree in physiology. My path to academic medicine was more focused. I was assigned to a small-group teaching session led by a urologist named John Texter. I was not contemplating a surgical residency, and I'm not even sure I knew then what a urologist did. But as Dr. Texter asked me questions and encouraged me to think through the case [we were analyzing], I realized I knew so much more than I had previously appreciated. I was hooked! From that moment I knew I wanted to be a medical educator. I've never looked back.

ACGME: What does receiving this award mean to you?

I'm so honored. It is profoundly meaningful that the people I work with the most closely took the initiative to nominate me.

ACGME: What do you feel is the most important job a DIO has?

Broquet: Where do I start? The job has grown a lot in the 18 years I've been doing it. The accreditation piece is obviously important. I think a DIO sits at the intersection of education, clinical care, administration, employment/HR, and regulation, and as such is uniquely able to educate others about all facets of GME, and help them gain perspective. In recent years, with the rapidity of change in requirements and expectations, an important part of the job has been to help people navigate change, breathe, and keep focused on the important things.

ACGME: What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Broquet: Again, where do I start?! For me, one of the most rewarding parts of my job has been the opportunity to mentor program directors and residents and watch them grow and blossom. My institution is significantly over cap, so obtaining resources to grow programs is a challenge. Therefore, when we are able to demonstrate enough value to obtain funding to expand programs or even start new ones, it's quite rewarding. And the development of a new program is a lot of fun.

ACGME: What is the most challenging?

Broquet: For me, negotiating for resources is a challenge, because I personally don't enjoy the process very much. Another challenge is time management. I still practice clinically, and have had the privilege of caring for some of my patients for 20+ years. As the DIO job has grown, keeping balance has become more of a challenge. I haven't figured this one out yet.

ACGME: What advice do you have to residents who may be interested in pursuing a career in academic medicine?

Broquet: Do it! I'm biased, of course, because I love teaching. The thing about academic medicine is that the clinical options are endless. You are never bored, you are challenged and stimulated every day. I practiced in a non-academic setting for a year, and it was alarming how much less I read, because I had no learners to keep me on my toes. Physicians in all sorts of practices have the opportunity to have an impact on individual patients. I think academic medicine offers us a greater opportunity to have a larger impact for folks who are traditionally underserved.