This interview is one in a series of interviews with recipients of the 2023 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 this week in Nashville, Tennessee, from February 23-25, 2023.
2023 Parker J. Palmer Courage to Teach Awardee Dr. Shashank Kraleti is the program director for family medicine, primary care and population health service line director, and vice-chair for clinical affairs at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
ACGME: How did you become involved in medicine, and in academic medicine specifically?
Dr. Kraleti: Medicine was not my first choice. I had always felt confident that a career involving numbers and management – perhaps as an engineer – was the best fit for me. My brother, who is a doctor, persuaded me to think of medicine instead, and I am glad that I made the switch. When I served as chief resident in my residency program, I realized very quickly where my next steps would lead me. Academic family medicine was a natural choice, as it allows me to do a variety of things every day.
ACGME: What does this award mean to you?
Dr. Kraleti: Residency management is one of the toughest jobs in academic medicine. This award is truly significant for program directors who work tirelessly to run a residency, serving as a leader, counselor, motivator, disciplinarian, evaluator, teacher, budgetary head, mentor, friend, and many other roles.
ACGME: What do you feel is the most important job the program director has?
Dr. Kraleti: Providing personalized attention to the residents is the top job. Every learner is different with different needs, and a one-size-fits-all mentality simply doesn’t work.
ACGME: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Dr. Kraleti: Having the opportunity to teach and make changes to the system so that everyone around me can learn in a productive and supportive environment.
ACGME: What is the most challenging?
Dr. Kraleti: For me, it is hard to sign off and to balance work and life. There’s always something to improve. While I enjoy tackling every challenge, I have to remind myself that I can’t fix everything and that I need time to enjoy myself outside of work.
ACGME: What advice do you have to residents or fellows who may be interested in pursuing a career in academic medicine?
Dr. Kraleti: Academic medicine is the only place that provides an opportunity to teach, to improve systems, to develop future physicians, and to work on research while providing excellent care to patients. I would recommend it to anyone who has a passion for medicine and the drive for constant improvement.
Learn more about the ACGME’s Parker J. Palmer Courage to Teach Award and nominate a deserving program director for the 2024 Award – nominations are due by March 15, 2023.