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An Award for Everyone

May 21, 2023
by Mark David Siegel

Hi everyone,

Welcome to award season. At this week’s ATS conference, several friends and colleagues, including Drs. Lauren Ferrante, Clemente Britto, Katie McAvoy, Ethan Bernstein, and Deena Costa, will be honored for huge teaching, clinical, and research achievements. When I return to Connecticut on Tuesday evening, I’ll drive straight to Francesca’s high school for her awards ceremony. Then, at residency graduation on June 4, we’ll recognize several members of our community for major contributions.

I have mixed feelings about awards. It feels good to win, of course, and it’s inspiring to hear what recipients have accomplished. Awards can catalyze grants, fellowships, faculty positions, and promotions. Most importantly, awards broadcast the values we aspire to, like excellence in clinical medicine, teaching, compassion, teamwork, and discovery.

But awards have their limitations. There aren’t enough to go around, and they recognize only a sliver of our accomplishments. There’s no medal for surviving an 80-hour work week or 28-hour call. We don’t give kudos for completing essential tasks like signing notes, emptying inboxes, submitting MedHub evaluations, or returning phone calls. No one gets a shout out for showing up every day, giving your heart and soul to your patients, students, and colleagues. There’s certainly no award for the work that goes unseen, like checking in with a patient one last time before you go home, or standing silently after a code to honor the passing of a life. The satisfaction you feel—or should feel—for a job well done is its own reward.

Award recipients deserve to be proud of their accomplishments, and I share their joy. But we should also recognize that many of the most important contributions garner no public glory. Given that, I hope you’ll take a moment today to recognize the efforts of those around you, physicians and non-physicians alike. Thank them for what they do every day. Please also take a moment to consider the contributions you’ve made over the past year to your patients and our residency. You each deserve an award for your devotion, and you should all be proud.

Enjoy your Sunday, everyone. I’m in Washington, D.C., learning the latest in pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine. I’m also looking forward to meeting up with old friends, including many residency alumni. See you next week.


P.S. What I’m reading: The Tyranny of ‘the Best’

P.P.S. From my last hike on Friday in Acadia 8.2 miles:

Submitted by Mark David Siegel on May 21, 2023