Kimberly G. Harkins, MDAssociate Program DirectorDepartment of MedicineUniversity of Mississippi School of Medicine
How long have you been a member of AAIM?
20 years! Which is a very long time.
What is your favorite part of your job?
The wide variety of things an academic internist gets to do: patient care, teaching, mentoring, brainstorming, career counseling, life coaching, planning retreats and curricula. It never gets boring, and which part is my favorite changes day to day.
How has AAIM membership been of value to you and your career?
My membership in APDIM has taught me so much over the years; AAIM is where I learned all about GME and residency training and even some of the business of medicine. I have most enjoyed the camaraderie and the very reassuring sense that we are all struggling with the same issues. The collective wisdom of AAIM is a terrific resource.
When did you know you wanted to pursue a career as a physician?
I don’t remember wanting to do anything else, except be one of Charlie’s Angels. My father tells me I also expressed a desire to be a teacher and a missionary. I am incredibly fortunate that my work in academic medicine affords me the chance to accomplish almost all my career goals.
What or who inspires you and why?
I really admire the people all around us who do very essential work without recognition or a big paycheck. We depend on so many people like truck drivers, convenience store clerks, police officers, and sanitation workers. Many of them work nights, weekends, and holidays for much less prestige or pay than health care workers, but they are just as essential to our day to day lives (maybe more so!).
What advice would you give to those who wish to pursue a career in this academic medicine?
Absolutely go for it, because the path is not easy but the rewards are limitless. Find someone who does this work well and ask them to mentor you. Assume best intentions. Give your heart to your trainees; they are so worth it. When you have a bad day, or a bad streak of days, promise yourself you won’t give up your position for at least three months (to see if you are really ready to move on or just in a slump).
What is your favorite book or movie?
I cannot even choose a favorite genre! Reading is such a joy for me. Some authors I never get tired of re-reading like J.R.R. Tolkien, Anne Tyler, and Abraham Verghese. Fiction and memoirs are a terrific way to learn about other places and cultures, our differences and our common threads.