AAIM Member Spotlight
Maria C. DeOliveira
Director, Education Administration
Department of Medicine
Harvard Medical School
Brigham and Women's Hospital
How long have you been a member of AAIM?
I have been a member of APDIM since I began in medical education in 2000 when I started my career at Carney Hospital. I was actually on the APDIM Public Policy Committee before the transition to the Alliance. I served for about 10 years on the committee. My career has included positions as the Administrative Director for Medical Education in the Department of Medicine at Boston Medical Center and then at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center as the Administrative Director for GME. I missed working more closely with residents at the departmental level so I transferred to my current position at Brigham and Women’s Hospital as the Director for Education Administration in the Department of Medicine. In this role, I oversee medical student education, residency education, and continuing medical education while also serving as a liaison to the fellowship programs within medicine.
Describe your typical day.
A typical day for me includes many, many meetings at different levels. Often these meetings include checking in on my various teams, operationalizing administrative tasks and meetings with program, departmental, and institutional leadership on varying initiatives within medical education. Every day is actually very different given the time of year and I spend lots of time putting out fires or trying to prevent fires in such a large program and department.
What is your favorite part of the job?
I started to love this job is when it became a career to me; I am very passionate about it. What started as a position to pay the bills quickly became something that I was able to grow and develop in. It quickly became my dream job when previously I knew nothing about medical education.
One of my favorite parts of the job is helping to train the coordinators on my team and working with them on their professional development. Coordinator development and professional mentoring is something that I have been very fortunate to achieve through the help of many. I enjoy giving back to the medical education community by helping as much as I can with the development of coordinators. The second favorite aspect of my position is interacting with residents. It is the most meaningful part to me. We are working with residents during a very stressful period in their life. I respect their hard work and commitment to patient care. As I grow in my position, I realize that I have less and less time directly interacting with residents and that is a hard adjustment but the residents are still at the core of why I love my job.
How has the AAIM membership been of value to you and your career?
I remember the first APDIM meeting I attended 16 years ago in San Diego. I didn’t really know anyone there. Those that I did know, I had only interacted with via email or seen their names on the list serve. Everyone was so welcoming. At that point, there wasn’t a special part of the conference dedicated to coordinators but there were many coordinators paving the way for future coordinators through mentorship and advocacy of the role. Even in the organic phase of the Alliance there was always a network.
As I developed and became part of the public policy committee, I had a great opportunity to work with members who were experts in GME. We went to Capitol Hill and met with representatives and leadership to discuss GME funding and challenges. I learned so much from the faculty on the committee and am very thankful for the opportunity given to me. Alliance members helped to train me to speak in front of these leaders and understand a government process that I had no prior experience with. Through that experience I was also given the opportunity to do presentations at meetings and collaborate with other members of the committee. I used to be a very shy person and would have never presented a workshop. The Alliance helped me cross the bridge to try new things.
What's your favorite moment of your career so far?
I was recently appointed to the ACGME Program Administrator Advisory Council. Through this committee, ACGME acknowledges that program administrators have a voice. They received 200 applications and picked 13 of us nationally. I am happy to see the continued development of coordinators and recognition of a very important role that is critical to the success of training programs.
What was your childhood dream job?
I wanted to be a pediatrician since I was four years old. I was the child of immigrant parents and in my house career discussions usually focused around becoming a doctor, lawyer, or teacher. My father was disabled and mother was very ill and I wanted to care for them and “fix” them. I was pre-med in college, had a child, and decided not to pursue medical school at that time. I did land in medical education and truly found my passion. I recently went back to school to earn my master's degree in education research, measurement, and evaluation.
How do you spend your free time?
I’m in an adjustment phase; my 19-year-old daughter Jacquie is in college in Nashville, TN, and my mother, for whom I was primary caregiver, recently passed away. I am trying to focus on myself for the first time in a very long time. I am exploring and trying new things and trying to take time to smell the roses that I never did before. I live in Boston with my two dogs Fenway and Bruin.
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
People that know me now would be surprised to know that I was very, very shy to the point of breaking out in hives before I went into medical education. I am very outgoing and I love people so I even laugh at myself when I remember how shy I used to be.