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    Leverage your knowledge and create a legacy

    Take the time to mentor students. Our specialty will benefit and thrive.



    Dr. Copel is Professor, Obstetrics, Gynecology, & Reproductive Sciences, and Pediatrics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut. He is also a member of the Contemporary OB/GYN editorial advisory board.



    Ob/gyns work hard. Both academicians and private practitioners take on commitments that inevitably make demands on our time and energy. Some of us make successful clinical careers by being accessible to our patients regardless of time of day or day of the week. Others spend time creating new information and knowledge (that is, researching) and sharing it with colleagues (that is, publishing and speaking).

    The critical component to success in medicine—or, for that matter, in business, law, or any career—is the willingness to work harder than the average person, mixed with a little creativity. Often it takes a bit of good fortune as well—meeting the right connection or recognizing a new opportunity before others do.

    There is much truth to the saying, “If you want to get something done, ask a busy person.” I have been asked why I do all the things I do: the professional association governance work, the committee meetings, the travel. It all takes up time that might be spent with family or pursuing a hobby or other things (for instance, I wrote this at 8 am on a Sunday). I believe that for many of us, the motive is leveraging ourselves.

    “Leverage” is a term with a mixed reputation these days. Excessive leverage, after all, helped burst the housing bubble, and it has brought down banks, hedge funds, and investment houses. But I mean “leverage” as “using given resources to magnify outcome.”

    Think about it. The average ob/gyn might deliver 10 to 15 babies a month over a 30-year career—let’s say 4000 to 5000 in total. Inspire one medical student to enter our field every year by striking up a relationship during his or her clerkship, and you could influence the births of more than 100,000 babies down the road.

    One of the things I do to leverage is to socialize with our medical students. Instead of delivering a stuffy lecture in a dark seminar room each rotation, I invite all the students to my house to talk about careers, education, and anything they haven’t learned in their clerkship that they think is important. This often includes talking about residency selection, and gives me the opening to talk about the range of practice options available to ob/gyns. On a good night, I can almost see light bulbs appearing in cartoon bubbles above the students’ heads as they realize, “Maybe I really should do this.”


    Joshua A. Copel, MD
    DR. COPEL is Professor, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Director of ...


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