Still Teaching After Leaving Academic Medicine

March 1, 2011
Jennifer Frank, MD

Deciding to leave academic medicine and my role as a teacher was difficult. I always enjoyed teaching and I thought I did a decent job of it. I realize, though, that there are multiple opportunities to be a teacher.

Deciding to leave academic medicine and my role as a teacher was difficult. I always enjoyed teaching and I thought I did a decent job of it. The parts that I liked were helping a student to be successful or find the confidence to try something on their own. It challenged me to be a better doctor and to continue to learn myself. Therefore, I was apprehensive leaving this role and what it would mean for this personal part of me.

I realize, though, that there are multiple opportunities to be a teacher. Of course, as a physician I am a teacher many times for my patients. As a mom, I am a teacher for my kids. Even - every once in awhile - I still can teach my husband something.

As I wrote about last week, my newest venture is coaching soccer. This past weekend we had our first game. Coaching these little kids on the finer points of soccer technique (not everyone should rush to the ball at the same time) made me feel like a “teacher” again. I found my enthusiasm and love of working with them to achieve a common goal. Now maybe I am overdramatizing a kids’ soccer game, but it was a reminder that I can still do the things I love – teach, lecture, write – even if my job description has changed.

They are both passions and talents and leaving my academic position does not require that I leave them behind as well.