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Jul 22, 2015 Pérez-Stable Receives 2015 Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award

Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, MD, Professor of Medicine and Director of the UCSF Medical Effectiveness Research Center for Diverse Populations (MERC) and of the Center for Aging in Diverse Communities and Assistant Director for Health Care Disparities of the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, has been selected to receive the UCSF 2015 Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award.

To read more about the award and see a list of previous recipients, please visit the UCSF Academic Affairs Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award page
A feature news story including an interview with Dr. Pérez-Stable is available at the UCSF News Center

The Mentoring Award ceremony was held on July 8, 2015. Below is the statement Dr. Pérez-Stable made upon receiving his award.

"I want to thank the nominating team led this year by Leah Karliner and especially Anna Nápoles, Alicia Fenández, Alka Kanaya, Celia Kaplan, Elena Flowers, Rosa Maria Sternberg, Erik Rodriquez, Rene Salazar and Mike Rabow, who coordinated the effort through DGIM.

None of this would be possible without the love and support of my wife Claudia and my sons Yaul and Alejo of whom I am most proud.

Because this award is and will always be a special recognition that I will cherish the rest of my life, I want to reflect on mentors who have been important to me in my career. Two of my career heroes, Steve McPhee and Phil Hopewell, were previous recipients and in that regard it brings me full circle to the start of my time at UCSF. Steve helped transform my clinical training in the ambulatory setting and served as a career mentor within DGIM before I became his chief. From Steve I learned how to be a better doctor and faculty colleague. Phil read the first paper that I had written and submitted on my own on Tuberculosis in Cuba and returned it full of red ink and great suggestions (no Track Tool then).

Being a mentor can have different phases. The traditional mentor role is that of being a parent or a guide through the process of learning a skill or a role or a trade. Mentees want to be shown the way, be spoon fed, given concrete advice, and career opportunities. In this way, the research model works well with a successful investigator providing the laboratory in which a less experienced researcher works and produces. I was fortunate to benefit from colleagues like Tom Coates, Ricardo Muñoz, and Neal Benowitz.

A second role is that of a peer or an older sibling who is at about the same stage but may know more (or may not really) but who shares, competes, and, if the process works well, becomes a long-term collaborator. I worked with Barbara Van Oss and Gerardo Marin on my initial research in tobacco use in Latinos and subsequently with Steve McPhee and Bob Hiatt on cancer control. Gene Washington and I started MERC and that launched a program from which I have greatly benefitted.

Finally, there is the role of being chief or director of a unit a position I was offered by Lee Goldman 16 years ago. The mentees multiply to many more types of faculty persons, needs are much more variable and career trajectories differ. I am not sure if Mitch’s view of mentorship includes the role that a chief plays––I have tried to persuade him that it does. Maybe now he will understand….

In medical school I had the privilege of learning from a master clinician during 6 weeks of my internal medicine rotation on the VA wards from the chief of service –– my father. It was probably one of the most important and steep learning curves that I ever experienced. Nowadays this would not be allowed. I think of Eliseo and Nenita every day and thank them for doing it right.

When I was promoted to associate professor at UCSF my SGIM colleague, Tom Inui, said that it was now my responsibility to help others do the same. With that advice in mind for the past 25 years, I want to share a few words of advice.

First, be generous with your knowledge, inside information, perceptions and advice. Make up for the lack of quantity with high quality.

Second, be rigorous and set high standards. Push mentees (and mentors) to produce quality work. Do not be rushed just to get something off the desk.

Third, be humble about your accomplishments and talents. Those of us without the talent of self-promotion can learn, but time will be the best judge of the value of your work.

Finally, be open to learning all the time from mentees. Be aware that not all mentor-mentee relationships will go well and yet there is much to be learned from those that do not. The best way to prevent problems from happening is to not be a mentor at all, but this has never been an option.

My role at UCSF is ending in less than two months after 37 years since I arrived here as an intern. I know that there are great people here to carry on this work. Thanks to all of you for this opportunity at this great institution!"


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