CHESTBlogFostering the Next Generation of Chest Medicine Clinicians

Fostering the Next Generation of Chest Medicine Clinicians

Fostering the Next Generation of Chest Medicine Clinicians

By: Katlyn Campbell
July 2, 2024

Opportunities like this are made possible by generous contributions from our donors. Make a gift to CHEST and select “Support of the Profession” today to help us send early career clinicians to CHEST Annual Meetings and pair them with mentors.

Dr. Hassan Bencheqroun

Hassan Bencheqroun, MD, FCCP

Dr. Hassan Bencheqroun

Hassan Bencheqroun, MD, FCCP

Mentoring junior colleagues and sharing his experiences is one way that Hassan Bencheqroun, MD, FCCP, likes to make an impact in chest medicine.

In 2023, Dr. Bencheqroun channeled his joy for mentoring by volunteering to mentor one of the CHEST Travel Grant recipients.

"CHEST's travel grants attract a specific population of very hardworking and truly enjoyable future colleagues, and I get to help make a difference in their lives. That is precious," he said.

Over the past 5 years, CHEST Travel Grants have helped send 130 early career clinicians to the CHEST Annual Meeting, allowing them to experience the comradery of the CHEST community, stay up to date on the latest advancements in medicine, and create new relationships with like-minded health care professionals.

And the impact of these grants lasts far beyond the last day of the meeting.

Luis Sanchez-Ato, MD

Luis Sanchez-Ato, MD

Luis Sanchez-Ato, MD

Luis Sanchez-Ato, MD

Easing the economic burden
CHEST Travel Grants aid historically excluded populations in an effort to encourage the professional growth of CHEST’s diverse chest medicine community, and they give awardees an opportunity to attend the best event in clinical chest medicine education—an opportunity that may have been impossible without financial assistance.

“These grants are very impactful because of the economic burden for us at this point in our careers,” said Luis Sanchez-Ato, MD, a CHEST Travel Grant 2023 awardee. “For CHEST to support us in going to the meeting and to be able to present there and network—it's very important for my career.”

Andres Mora Carpio, MD

Andres Mora Carpio, MD

Andres Mora Carpio, MD

Andres Mora Carpio, MD

Andres Mora Carpio, MD, another CHEST Travel Grant 2023 awardee, agreed that the free meeting registration and financial assistance with travel expenses were a major reason why he applied for the grant. But beyond that, Dr. Mora Carpio wanted to attend the annual meeting in Hawaiʻi because of the group of people that normally attends.

"I like CHEST particularly because it's very clinical. It's a different kind of group, which I identify with," he said.

CHEST 2023 also presented an opportunity to meet people face-to-face for Dr. Mora Carpio, who was mostly connecting with people on Zoom as he interviewed for an interventional pulmonary (IP) fellowship in the months prior to the meeting.

“To be able to go to CHEST 2023 and actually meet people in person—there's a lot of value to that."

Starting a new professional relationship
Once on-site at CHEST 2023, both awardees were able to connect with their assigned mentors.

Dr. Sanchez-Ato was paired with mentor Cassie Kennedy, MD, FCCP, whom he described as the perfect mentor for anyone in the pulmonary and critical care pathway.

“I felt very supported because she was looking forward to connecting me with people, supporting my ideas, and getting me involved in the projects I had in mind for myself," Dr. Sanchez-Ato said.

Dr. Sanchez-Ato and Dr. Kennedy began regular virtual meetings and are now collaborating on a project centered around diversity in medicine.

"Pulmonary critical care is a male-predominant specialty, but we have the sense nowadays that this is changing," Dr. Sanchez-Ato said.

Dr. Sanchez-Ato presenting research at CHEST 2023

Dr. Sanchez-Ato presenting research at CHEST 2023

Dr. Sanchez-Ato presenting research at CHEST 2023

Dr. Sanchez-Ato presenting research at CHEST 2023

In their project, the pair will analyze the last 20 years of poster presentations accepted at the CHEST Annual Meeting by collecting the gender of the first author listed on each. With this data, they hope to understand the range of diversity in presenters and capture any trends.

Learning lessons that extend beyond the clinical setting
Gaining a new mentor from receiving a travel grant can sometimes result in having a new partner with whom to pursue research. But it can also serve as an opportunity to learn valuable life lessons, as it was for Dr. Mora Carpio.

At CHEST 2023, Dr. Mora Carpio and his mentor, Dr. Bencheqroun, began their relationship with an off-site lunch. As Dr. Mora Carpio describes it, “I think that in those 20 minutes, he got all the information that he needed from me to know who I was and how he could help me.”

After their conversation, Dr. Bencheqroun tasked Dr. Mora Carpio with establishing two professional goals and one personal goal that he could help mentor him through. For Dr. Mora Carpio, it was the personal goal that mattered to him most, as it was tied to his now 15-month-old child.

“My personal goal was to be able to dedicate time to my family in spite of being on a master's program at the same time that I was doing my fellowship, and at the same time that I was trying to develop some research projects and a personal project,” Dr. Mora Carpio said.

During their one-on-one meetings, Dr. Bencheqroun introduced Dr. Mora Carpio to the benefits of using artificial intelligence to gain efficiency and enrich the time he had with his family. Dr. Mora Carpio was able to use these tools to reduce the time it took him to write introductions for alumni who came back to speak to fellows at his institution. A task that previously took hours now only took minutes.

"You can imagine the increase in efficiency with that," he said. "Dr. Bencheqroun showed me tools to do the same kind of things with presentations and PowerPoint and how to use them to simplify my life."

With these newfound skills, Dr. Mora Carpio went on to become Chief Fellow in his program, secure an IP fellowship, and start IP research projects. At the same time as he is accomplishing his professional goals, he finds himself happy at home.

“I'm very grateful for this grant. It changed my life, honestly,” Dr. Mora Carpio said. “It gave me things that I wouldn't have been able to achieve on my own or would've taken me years to accomplish. The time I have to be with my family... There are no words to say how amazing that is.”

The importance of travel grants
Dr. Bencheqroun added that the value of the CHEST Travel Grant program is felt long after the annual meeting ends.

"You look at awardees a few years later, and they inevitably have something special that drives them to do extra, to contribute more,” he said. “They find inspiration, so the legacy continues on beyond that moment. The awardee feels invested in and motivated to pay it forward by either becoming a mentor themselves or becoming a donor to CHEST.”

Dr. Sanchez-Ato described his experience in this program as something that helped him understand where he is in his career right now and where he looks forward to being in the next 10 years. “Being paired with a mentor created a high bar that I want to reach,” he said. "It's inspiring."

Make a gift to CHEST and select “Support of the Profession” today to help us continue creating opportunities for early career clinicians to attend the annual meeting and develop relationships that could enhance their professional and personal lives for years to come.


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