Maria M. Garcia, MD, MPH, FACP, joined the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine (KPSOM) community on September 26 as the Latine/x and Hispanic Heritage Month Keynote Speaker. Dr. Garcia, a professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School where she serves as Assistant Vice Provost for Diversity and Student Success, addressed “Succeeding along the Clinical Track from Assistant to Full Professor and Succeeding in Medical School” with the KPSOM community.
Dr. Garcia shared a breadth of information with participants, ranging from details of growing up in Puerto Rico alongside her family with strong military ties, her path to medicine at varied U.S. educational institutions, and her eventual interest in hospital medicine. She shared statistics on the lack of faculty of color in U.S. medical schools, gave advice on developing a career plan that includes individual passions, and provided strategies for promotion within academia.
In addition, Dr. Garcia provided helpful tips for advancement within academia, such as the continuous documentation of one’s individual achievement and the proper way to evaluate personal accomplishments. She further provided details on academic ranking, faculty involvement expectations, and shared personal challenges she has faced as a Latina in academia.
Dr. Garcia stated how important it is for students to be themselves in addition to developing strategies for success in medical school, such as good study habits, taking advantage of opportunities for mentorship and advice, and decreasing the chance of burnout by exercising, eating and sleeping well; asking for support from friends, coaches or therapists; tracking individual stress levels; and taking time off when needed.
“You do not inspire people by being perfect,” said Dr. Garcia. “You inspire them by how [you] deal with imperfections. We do not grow when things are easy. We grow when we face challenges.”