Member Spotlight: Catherine Derber, MD, FACP


Catherine Derber, MD, FACP
Associate Clerkship Director, Internal Medicine
Eastern Virginia Medical School

How long have you been a member of AAIM?

I have been a member for about 5 years.

Describe your typical day.

My daily routine varies on the week and the time of year. Depending on the week, I work with medical students on the inpatient infectious diseases consult service team or in our infectious diseases clinic. In my role as associate clerkship director, my time alternates between teaching classes on clinical reasoning, assisting with the development of assessment and evaluation tools, and providing formative and summative feedback to students. I spend additional time working with students on HIV-related quality improvement projects, research, and community service events.

What is your favorite part of the job?

My favorite aspect is the opportunity to play a role in a student’s growth towards becoming a physician. Being trusted with their personal and professional goals is a privilege. I love to hear about their successes after completing medical school.

How has the AAIM membership been of value to you and your career?

I have had the privilege of working on a couple of AAIM Committees and as an AAIM Ambassador. I requested a mentor from the CDIM mentorship program, and this relationship has introduced me to additional opportunities. These activities have allowed me to meet and collaborate with clerkship directors from around the country. Our clerkship has benefitted from hearing new ideas and concepts as well as learning how other clerkship directors have addressed various challenges. My involvement with AAIM has also helped foster the growth of my leadership and communication skills.

What’s your favorite moment of your career so far?

My favorite moment was being rewarded by our institution’s Gold Humanism Honor Society with the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award. I value compassion, empathy, and equity in the care of my patients. Being recognized for these traits was validating and gratifying.

What was your childhood dream job?

I wanted to be an archaeologist, like Indiana Jones.

How do you spend your free time?

My favorite time outside of work is spent with my husband and our two children. I also enjoy traveling and learning about new cultures, hiking, baking (and eating) desserts, reading, and playing trivia games.

What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

I worked as a general internist in the United States Air Force for almost 5 years after completing my internal medicine residency. I participated in smallpox and anthrax vaccine administrations, led disaster training teams, and cared for patients who were newly diagnosed with HIV. My experiences helped confirm my decision to pursue infectious diseases as a career.