By all accounts, the Eighth Annual Mix & Mingle Alumni Reception at the 2022 ACOG Annual Clinical & Scientific Meeting was a rousing success. With alumni from dozens of training programs, the event brought together hundreds of participants to reconnect with each other in a casual setting while enjoying an abundance of food and beverages. The social event has annually been a big hit, and we were fortunate to be able to comfortably gather during a time of low community spread of COVID-19.
On a personal level, I had the opportunity to meet with dozens of former residents. They spoke of their fond memories of residency and specific details of patients I had long forgotten. They recounted many of the learned tenets of surgery from residency that they have now integrated into their armamentarium. What seemed to be a singular event in the space of four years of training struck me, and how it could have such a ripple effect on not just our graduates but how they passed their experiences and learnings on trainees to come. While we have moved beyond the original apprenticeship model in favor of competency-based training and milestones, there remains great value in the one-on-one experience between gynecologic surgeon and learner.
Finally, the graduates brought me up to speed on their professional and personal lives. In attendance was a full-time academic generalist, director of an OB/GYN hospitalist program, a minimally invasive gynecologic surgery fellowship director, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention contraception researcher, and an industry medical director advancing R&D for inexpensive prenatal tests. Who could predict which ones would go on to do such important work? Certainly not me. Nor did any of their medical school credentials or academic pedigrees offer clues to their career paths. I am reminded of the quote from Macbeth, “If you can look into the seeds of time and say which grain will grow and which will not speak then unto me.” As educators, our job is to plant seeds, nourish and encourage, and then sit back and be amazed.
As these trainees have now become my professional colleagues, I am assured that our field of Obstetrics and Gynecology has an overflowing bounty of innovative, dedicated, and passionate leaders. While scheduled as a simple social mixer, this gathering reinforced to me the significance of mentorship and brought great joy and hope for the future after a long, weathered pandemic storm.
Dr. Milad is employed by Northwestern Medicine and has no conflicts of interest to report
Illustration by April Brust