Honoring Excellence: Q and A with Kim Baker-Genaw, MD

March 2, 2023

This interview is one in a series of interviews with recipients of the 2023 ACGME Awards. The awardees join an outstanding group of previous honorees whose work and contributions to graduate medical education (GME) represent the best in the field. They were honored at the ACGME Annual Educational Conference, which took place in Nashville, Tennessee February 23-25, 2023.

2023 Parker J. Palmer Courage to Lead Awardee Dr. Kim Baker-Genaw is the designated institutional official (DIO) at Henry Ford Health in Detroit, Michigan.

ACGME: How did you become involved in medicine, and in academic medicine specifically?

Dr. Baker-Genaw:
I would describe my path to academic medicine as a series of fortunate events. I grew up in Northern Michigan and really knew nothing about academic medicine or medicine in general. As a first-generation college student, I started at the local community college, then found my way to Grand Valley State University, where inspiring faculty members and friends encouraged me to apply to medical school. I was so excited when I was accepted to Wayne State University School of Medicine, where I found the meaning in medicine, and my fantastic husband, Jeff. I matched in internal medicine at Henry Ford Hospital, where inspiring leaders fostered my interests and provided the opportunities to advance and grow. It all started when I was selected as Chief Resident, and then I followed a more predictable path from clerkship director to associate program director to program director to DIO. I am so fortunate to have had family, faculty members, mentors, and friends who supported me on this journey.

ACGME: What does this award mean to you?

Baker-Genaw: This award recognizes the tremendous efforts of the entire GME team I have had the honor to work with and that have been so integral to the success of our Henry Ford Health GME mission. I am incredibly humbled to be in the company of so many DIOs who have been nominated and won this award. I consider several current and prior award winners to be inspiring mentors, and I have had the privilege to work with and learn from many of them.

ACGME: What do you feel is the most important job a designated institutional official has?

Baker-Genaw: The DIO inspires, encourages, and supports others as the education leader and [as an] accreditation resource for staff members, programs, program directors, residents, and fellows.

ACGME: What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Baker-Genaw: The most rewarding part of this role is to be able to contribute to and see others advance and succeed. The number of well-trained, incredible physicians who come from our educational programs to care for our patients and communities is a constant source of inspiration. The physicians we train make a difference in the lives of so many others.

ACGME: What is the most challenging?

Baker-Genaw: The most challenging part of the job is working in the constant state of change and challenge, from the ongoing advances in clinical care and education to the recurring financial and productivity requirements that continue to threaten the delicate balance in medical education.

ACGME: What advice do you have to residents or fellows who may be interested in pursuing a career in academic medicine?

Baker-Genaw: Talk with your program director, DIO, Chair, or other leaders in your institution to let them know you are interested in academic medicine and a career in medical education. Ask for advice and direction. I was fortunate to work for leaders who provided me with the connections, resources, support, and networks to grow and develop into this role.

Be courageous, look for mentors, meet colleagues, and seek out opportunities to connect, network, and grow.

ACGME: Is there anything you would like to add we haven’t asked about?

Baker-Genaw: I attribute my success and the ability to follow this incredible path to the sacrifices and support of my husband, Jeff, my wonderful children, Jacob and Jaquelyn, and especially my loving parents, James and Donna Baker.

Learn more about the ACGME’s Parker J. Palmer Courage to Lead Award and nominate a deserving DIO for the 2024 Award – nominations are due by March 15, 2023.