This interview is one in a series of interviews with recipients of the 2022 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 ACGME Annual Educational Conference, taking place virtually March 30-April 1, 2022.
2022 Parker J. Palmer Courage to Teach Awardee Nicole Paradise Black, MD, MEd is a professor of pediatrics, the associate chair of pediatrics education, and the program director for pediatrics at University of Florida Health’s Shands Children’s Hospital.
ACGME: How did you become involved in medicine, and in academic medicine specifically?
Nicole Paradise Black: I have Crohn’s disease and after a month-long hospitalization as a teenager, I walked out knowing that I wanted to do for others what my doctors did for me. My first job out of training was as a pediatric hospitalist at a community hospital. I valued the time to grow as a clinician, but I was excited when I had an opportunity to return to a university-affiliated institution. I appreciate being in an environment filled with inquiry, teaching, and learning. I am the best pediatrician and teacher I can be when I am learning from and with others.
ACGME: What does this award mean to you?
Paradise Black: It means more than you’ll ever know. Program directors’ responsibilities are immense. We want to do right by our residents, colleagues, and patients and knowing that you’re doing some things reasonably well is tremendously rewarding. This award is also a testament to my talented team and our collective efforts.
ACGME: What do you feel is the most important job the program director has?
Paradise Black: Knowing that at the end of the day you helped guide individuals in their journey to serve children to the best of their abilities.
ACGME: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Paradise Black: Seeing residents grow, personally and professionally, and being part of a team with a shared vision of dedication to teaching and learning and pediatric health care.
ACGME: What is the most challenging?
Paradise Black: I was initially surprised by the weight of the emotional investment of this role; it is not necessarily a challenge, but it is a lot to carry. I care deeply about the development and personal successes and challenges of the people I serve, as well as the patients they care for now and in the future.
ACGME: What advice do you have to residents or fellows who may be interested in pursuing a career in academic medicine?
Paradise Black: I feel like I get so much more than I give in my role as an educator. Be open to opportunities, think creatively, say yes but not too much, find a village, embrace failure, and lift others as you climb.
ACGME: Is there anything else you would like to add I haven’t asked about?
Paradise Black: Thank you again for this honor and recognition.
Learn more about the ACGME’s Parker J. Palmer Courage to Teach Award and nominate a deserving program director for the 2023 Award – nominations are due by April 6, 2022.