Honoring Excellence: Q and A with Laura Minikel, MD, FACOG

February 20, 2024
2024 Courage to Teach Awardee Laura Minikel, MD, FACOG.

This interview is one in a series of interviews with recipients of the 2024 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 March 7-9 in Orlando, Florida.

2024 Courage to Teach Awardee Dr. Laura Minikel is the program director of the obstetrics and gynecology residency at Kaiser Permanente – Oakland in Oakland, California.

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

Minikel: I wanted to give back. I wanted to serve in a way that had ripple effects. Ripples can be made through many different avenues, and I did consider a few along my journey. The path I ultimately chose was being a physician (an obstetrician and gynecologist, specifically) and being a residency program director who could recruit, educate, and support a group of residents that reflected the marked diversity of our local community.

ACGME: What does this award mean to you?

Minikel: To be nominated by my colleagues and friends was incredibly humbling and meaningful. This is an award for the team I am privileged to work with every day.

ACGME: What do you feel is the most important job the program director has?

Minikel: To help create and nurture an environment where residents are supported and challenged to find who they want to be professionally while never losing sight of who they are as people and what drew them to be a physician.

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

Minikel: The professional growth of individual residents and the deep relationships that form is the most rewarding for me. I love seeing the “ah-ha” moment as residents learn something or they realize how far they have come in a relatively short amount. When I am most proud of them, though, is when they show deep integrity in doing what is right despite how difficult it may be.

ACGME: What is the most challenging?

Minikel: Functioning in a paradox. For example, being asked to be transparent yet protect individual privacy, and to provide the best for each individual resident yet also for the program as a whole. Often these are in opposition, and the path forward is not perfect.

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

Minikel: Being a residency program director has been the most meaningful part of my career and has allowed me to grow in ways I could have never anticipated. When I told my program director, Dr. Robin Field, that I was following in his footsteps, he told me, “It will be the hardest job you ever love.” He was right.

Learn more 
about the ACGME’s Parker J. Palmer Courage to Teach Award and nominate a deserving program director for the 2025 Award – nominations are due by March 27, 2024. Registration is still open for the 2024 ACGME Annual Educational Conference – learn more and register today on the conference website.