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Q&A with Dr. Susan Bostwick, New Associate Dean of Affiliations, On Her Career at Weill Cornell Medicine and Latest Role

a woman in a white coat posing for a photo

A respected pediatrician, educator and leader in the Weill Cornell Medicine community for nearly 30 years, Dr. Susan Bostwick has another title to add to her long list of accomplishments: associate dean of affiliations. 

In the new role, which began in July, Dr. Bostwick serves as the liaison between Weill Cornell Medicine and its vast network of affiliations with health care systems and academic medical centers across the country. Through this work, she maintains strong relationships with affiliate leaders and coordinates education and career advancement opportunities for faculty and students. 

Dr. Bostwick received her MBA from the University of Rochester and medical degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She began her career as a resident with NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in 1993 before being appointed to Weill Cornell Medicine’s faculty in 1997. 

In addition to being executive vice chair for administration and faculty and division chief of General Academic Pediatrics, Dr. Bostwick has led the Pediatric Graduate Medical Education program, was vice chair for education and received numerous teaching awards at Weill Cornell Medicine. On a national level, she is co-director of the Academic Pediatric Associations Advancing Pediatric Leaders program, a new 18-month leadership development program for mid-career faculty members. She was also recently appointed to the Board of the Pediatric Academic Societies, a conference for pediatricians across North America. 

Dr. Bostwick recently discussed why affiliate relationships are so important, what she hopes to accomplish and how she juggles all her roles. 

Q: Can you explain the value of forging affiliations with other institutions? How do these relationships enrich both Weill Cornell Medicine faculty and students? 

A: Through our affiliates, we offer increased opportunities for our students in clinical care and research. Our affiliates expand the diversity of patients our students may interact with. Patients from rural and urban areas, in addition to patients from diverse ethnic, racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. These affiliations also expand research opportunities. For example, Houston Methodist now offers advanced degrees through the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences. For both our faculty and the affiliated faculty, there are opportunities for cross-collaborative research and faculty development. Our affiliated faculty can participate in online faculty development programs, as well as attend our grand rounds remotely as available. 

Q: What are some of your initial goals and projects?

A: We’re evaluating how we can use digital and virtual options to connect affiliates closer with the main campus and to determine how we can support the growth of faculty at our affiliates. The Office of Faculty Development is developing online faculty development programs that we plan to share with the faculty at our affiliates to help them improve as teachers and mentors. We are in early talks of holding a Virtual Town Hall in 2022 for the faculty at the affiliates, with the support of the affiliate deans and our leadership. The virtual town hall will be an opportunity for everyone to meet and learn about Weill Cornell, the other affiliated institutions and share ideas for collaborating on research projects. We are also in the process of revamping our Office of Affiliations website to improve and update information available about our affiliates.

Q: How will students also benefit from those development programs? 

A: For our students, strong faculty at our affiliates is important. It’s essential that faculty who are teaching our students have the ability to offer students a supportive learning environment; where stretching to learn, accepting productive feedback and asking questions is encouraged. This also teaches students how to be leaders. Longevity of faculty is also important. When faculty find a home where they can grow and develop, they’re able to share their enthusiasm for what they do and encourage students to find their niche.

Q: Weill Cornell has a wide network of affiliates across the state and country. What have you been doing to get to know the key leaders? 

A: Over the summer, as I took on this role, I met individually with each of the deans at our affiliated institutions to introduce myself, gather their thoughts on my role and their roles, as well as opportunities for growth and improvement. I have also had the opportunity to start to go to the sites that I am less familiar with.  I have been to Lincoln Hospital now a couple of times, and I traveled this fall to Cayuga Medical Center. I also have plans to go to the Burke Neurological Institute and Houston Methodist in the near future. 

Q: You’ve already been very successful in your career at Weill Cornell. Why was it important for you to step up as the Associate Dean of Affiliations? 

A: Early in my career at Weill Cornell, I became the director of pediatric graduate medical education, and I learned a great deal about GME. I was also involved with undergraduate medical education through teaching, committee work, LCME prep task forces and curriculum redesign committees. I developed the pediatric education committee, and eventually I became the executive vice chair for education and administration, where in addition to working within my department, I worked with thought leaders in education at Weill Cornell Medicine, first in the Education Affinity group and more recently, in the Education Vice Chairs Committee. While I have stepped down as vice chair for education, I continue to work closely with educators in my department and throughout the institution. 

This new role was an opportunity to grow as a leader and support Weill Cornell Medicine’s education programs. It’s about making sure that our core affiliate relationships with Weill Cornell are well-supported. My work ensures that our students have what they need and the affiliated institutions are receiving what they need. How can we support the faculty at the affiliates and ensure they see the value of being a Weill Cornell partner for growth in their career? These relationships are incredibly important, and we want to nurture and grow them. 

Q: With so many roles to juggle, how do you manage them all? 

A: Good question. I teach about this all the time and I practice what I teach. I teach both locally, including at Weill Cornell Medicine, and nationally about leadership including time management. I use my calendar a lot to manage me and my time, and that means planning in advance and making sure I look forward and schedule time to tackle projects. I also meet regularly with my very strong team of program and section leaders and medical directors to support their work and help them with project management. I lead a relatively large division in General Academic Pediatrics that has multiple sections, all of whom have strong section chiefs and medical directors that are often facing multiple new challenges and projects.  We work closely to develop plans, timelines and strategies to manage their challenges and opportunities. 

Q: There has been a lot of talk since the pandemic began about self care in the medical community. What are some things you do to recharge from work? 

A: If this was pre-COVID, my first answer would be travel, which I hope to get back to soon. I am very interested in exploring new places, cultures and history and learning from and meeting other people throughout the world.  In addition, living in the greatest city of the world, there is also always a lot to explore, from museums to food and hopefully soon theater.  I also enjoy reading and Yankees baseball; time with family and friends is incredibly important to me.

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