Alex Glaser, MD
Assistant Medical Director of the J. Edwin Wood Clinic, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine
Pennsylvania Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania Health System
How long have you been a member of AAIM?
I joined AAIM in the spring of 2017. At the time, I was a senior resident at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and rising chief resident. I joined AAIM in advance of the Spring 2017 APDIM Chief Residents conference in Baltimore, which my program’s educational leadership team attended as a group.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I am lucky because my clinical position is almost entirely a supervisory role over residents and students, both inpatient and outpatient. The best part of my job is teaching, mentoring, and shaping the minds of learners as they approach complex patient problems. I get fulfillment from sharing my love of the cognitive parts of medicine and discussing challenging clinical scenarios. When it comes to resident education in primary care, I find one of the biggest challenges keeping up with the literature and trying to stay a step ahead of what the residents are learning from our subspecialists; I love being challenged to learn more, adapt my educational content, and strive to be a model of a generalist’s breadth of knowledge.
How has the AAIM membership been of value to you and your career?
For me, the key values of AAIM membership are sharing best-practices, skill building, and networking. The national meetings have been a great forum for me to learn about amazing educational programs around the country, and the online forum is a way to continue that conversation between meetings. I always come away from the meetings with lofty ideas of new educational projects for my program to implement, and that creative impetus has led to some great new content for my learners. Personally, I also very much enjoy seeing my national medical education friends at the annual meetings; it’s refreshing to feel a part of such a collaborative community.
What’s your favorite moment of your career so far?
The overall highlight of my career was being a chief resident; however, my single favorite moment was a patient encounter. When we approach the end of residency, our primary care clinic sends letters to our continuity patients informing them of our next steps and thanking them for taking part in our training. I had one particularly challenging patient who I saw every 1-2 months for all of residency and she received the goodbye letter before our last visit together. At our last visit, she brought the letter to the appointment because she wanted me to sign it - she was so proud of me for moving on to be a chief resident, and she wanted to put the letter on her refrigerator with her grand-children’s report cards. It was such a touching moment for me and reminded me of the central role doctors play in many people’s lives, even if we don’t always know it.
What was your childhood dream job?
I grew up close to the National Zoo and my dream job was to be a zoo veterinarian so that I could work with elephants.
How do you spend your free time?
I’m a firm believer in cultivating a life outside of medicine. I enjoy staying active on the weekends, hiking, eating out with friends, and traveling as much as possible. I wish I had more interesting hobbies, but getting outside and away from my computer is always the primary goal.
What is your favorite book (or movie)?
Fantasy is by far my favorite book and movie genre. My favorite book series is The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan, and my favorite movies are the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
What is the best advice that you have ever received?
I can’t remember who told me this, but somewhere along the line someone gave me a piece of advice that has always stuck with me: “you can’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides”. We live in a profession (and world) where we are constantly comparing ourselves to someone else - someone’s life is perfect, they are so happy, they love their job, they do such amazing medical education research. The grass is always greener. However, it really isn’t a fair comparison to match internal insecurities to outward projections (consider this the next time you scroll through Facebook). Whenever I feel jealous, or down, or like I’ve made the wrong choices, or that I’m not doing “enough” I remind myself of this quote to check that I’m actually comparing how I feel to something more tangible than how I view someone else, or how someone else projects themselves.