2019 Educators of the Year Named

BUSM faculty members have been honored as 2019 Educators of the Year by the Committee on Faculty Affairs (CFA). These awards recognize BUSM educators who provide excellence in teaching and mentoring. Awards are given annually in the areas of pre-clinical sciences, clinical sciences and graduate medical sciences.

This year’s recipients are Melissa D. DiPetrillo, MD, Educator of the Year in Pre-clerkship; Steven C. Borkan, MD, Educator of the Year in Clerkship; Kathleen Swenson, MS, MPH, Educator of the Year in the MA/MS Program; and Karen Symes, PhD, Educator of the Year in the PhD Program.

Dr. DiPetrillo is an assistant professor of medicine and the Medical Director for the Physician Assistant (PA) Program. In her role as medical director she serves as Clinical Practicum course director and co-director of Introduction to Clinical Medicine. Dr. DiPetrillo received her MD degree from BUSM in 2002 and then completed an Internal Medicine Residency at Boston Medical Center (BMC), where she currently serves as an attending in the Department of General Internal Medicine. She recently was named to Boston Magazine’s 2019 Top Doctors list.

Dr. DiPetrillo’s nominators remarked, “she is an engaging, down to earth educator. She brings her clinical expertise in to her teaching and helps demonstrate the clinical applications of everything we learn didactically. She is extremely open to help whenever asked, and explains everything non-judgmentally and clearly.”

Dr. Borkan is an associate professor of medicine, an attending physician in the Renal Section at BMC and co-director of the MD-PhD Training Program at BUSM. His interests include the education of medical students and house staff, basic research in acute kidney injury (AKI) and the care of underserved patients with both general medical and renal diseases. He is the senior author of numerous publications in the pathobiology of renal cell injury during AKI and has been a National Institutes of Health-funded principal investigator for 20 years. He has received several awards for excellence in teaching from medical students, house staff and colleagues at BMC.

Dr. Borkan’s nominators commented, “He is an outstanding clinical preceptor. His strengths lay in his kindness and dedication to teaching students and interns. He truly cared about our educational experience … He really encouraged students to be involved in patient care and take responsibility for patients.”

Ms. Swenson is an assistant professor of medical sciences and education and has directed the Master’s Program in Genetic Counseling since 2016. She received her undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences and Psychology from Muhlenberg College, a master’s degree in Human Genetics from Sarah Lawrence College, and a master’s degree in Public Health from Columbia University. She’s been a genetic counselor for the past 19 years, working in various settings across several clinical specialties, including prenatal, pediatrics, neurology and cancer.

One of her nominators said, “Professor Swenson provides the most concise, clear and encouragingly thoughtful feedback I have ever received. She is the most amazing, motivating and approachable presence that I have ever encountered throughout my education.”

Dr. Symes is an associate professor of biochemistry and has major roles in curriculum design, development and implementation in Graduate Medical Sciences (GMS) and BUSM. As co-director of Foundations in Biomedical Sciences (FiBS) course, she helped to lead the integration of the first year PhD curriculum and currently co-chairs the FiBS Steering Committee that provides oversight and evaluation of its courses. She’s also course director of the fourth FiBS module, Mechanisms in Cell Communication. Additionally, Dr. Symes is the director of the core first year module Principles Integrating Science and Medicine: Molecular Foundations of Medicine and is a member of the team charged with the continuing development of the medical curriculum across all four years. As assistant dean of Student Affairs, Dr. Symes is involved in personal and professional student support including student well-being, career guidance, advocacy, letters of recommendation and emergency response for students facing professional, personal and family crises.

A nominator of Dr. Symes said, “She balances superbly on the high-wire between being kind and maintaining authority as the course director. This blend encourages students to bring questions and problems to her, but also allows her to keep us from veering too far off course.”

BUSM and GMS students nominate faculty in each category. The awards committee and student representatives work together to select the winners from the nominees.