Dear Colleagues – Fall 2021

By Nancy Bass, MD | President, PECN

Nancy Bass, MD President
Nancy Bass, MD

The CNS meeting in Boston is fast approaching – a very special gathering, indeed, as we join, some in person and some via technology, to celebrate this monumental historical landmark in the 50th anniversary celebration for the Child Neurology Society. As we commemorate this remarkable event, I am honored to share with you some previews of the upcoming fall Professors & Educators of Child Neurology (PECN) meeting and conclude with some reflective remarks on the impact many CNS members have had on my career as a child neurologist.

This has been a busy year for the PECN, with the addition of the word “educators” to the official name. This change in our name exemplifies the mission and inclusiveness of the education leaders of all trainees in child neurology and NDD. We have been working in concert with the CNS as part of the diversity and equity task force and will be presenting a diversity, equity and inclusion survey to the CNS executive board for approval and then distribution to members in the near future. This is an important start in assessing the state of this CNS/PECN initiative regarding this vital topic and will be a spring board for addressing the needs of our members going forward.

As reflected in our updated name, we are working with the membership committee and executive board to define and expand PECN membership to include clerkship and fellowship directors. In addition, we will be finalizing committee directives by redefining the roles and names of these committees into the medical student, resident and fellowship committees.  We will soon be sending out a request to members who would be interested to serve on one of these committees. With our expanded membership we are excited to embark on a new initiative: PECN program director mentorship program. The intent is to pair newer program directors with those of us a bit more seasoned. We will also be sending out requests for interest in this exciting program; Dr. Marc DiSabella will serve as the lead of this program. As part of this initiative, we plan to have an educator’s link on our PECN webpage where helpful tools for those navigating the sometimes confusing topics like milestones, annual program evaluations, sample program evaluations will be “only a click away.” These topics and more will be addressed in the PECN Annual Meeting, to be held live in Boston and videotaped for subsequent viewing by all members unable to attend.

I am very excited about our CME program for our meeting in Boston. (NOTE: This session will begin at 3:00 pm, five minutes following the conclusion of the PECN Business meeting. This is a CME session included as part of the overall CNS meeting and, as such, live-stream access will be limited to those registering for the CNS meeting. A recorded video of the session will be available after the virtual platform closes November 2). This session will include a presentation from Dr. Jessica Goldstein on how to incorporate a virtual learning curriculum through the pandemic and beyond. We will then hear from CNS Electronic Communications Committee Chair, Dr. David Hsieh with tips for the use of educational tools  on the CNS website as well as navigating social media for our organization. This will be followed with a very timely and exciting presentation from a dynamic group of medical students, Deonna Reese-White and Roxanna Nahvi, who have developed the Neuroequity Coalition. They will introduce us to this organization and discuss how to implement this into a residency curriculum. We will be finishing out the program with a very timely talk from Dr. Margie Ream who will be discussing the virtual interviewing season through the pandemic and beyond. 

I have had the great honor to work with many child neurologists who have helped shape my career as the years have flown by. From my early pediatric residency years, Dr. Augusto Morales was the first to introduce me to this outstanding specialty. I started my training learning the practice of child neurology from four amazing mentors, Dr. David Rothner, Dr Gerald Erenberg, Dr. Elaine Wyllie and Dr. Bruce Cohen. I then found myself, a new green attending, moving across the country by myself to begin my career as a child neurologist. There were many who helped shape my career back then, including Dr. Donna Ferriero, an absolute role model for a strong successful woman in medicine. Being taken under someone’s wing is something I wish and hope all trainees and those early in their career can experience. In considering all the amazing mentors in my career one definitely sticks  out as the most inspirational: a kind, compassionate, diagnostic wizard who reached out to this “green” and  anxious newbie and became a mentor, friend and exemplified a blue print of the kind of child neurologist I wanted to be. This remarkable child neurologist was Dr. Bruce Berg. 

I remember the stress of being a new attending, in love with my role as a clinician and teacher but not really finding my place in the research world. Dr. Berg frequently guided me and was the first to educate me on the very diverse roles a child neurologist can play: the clinician, the educator and the researcher. He told me, “Dr. Bass, you will know which role suits you and will find yourself fitting into that role like a glove.” The time you spend teaching  your residents is equal in value to the time a colleague may spend dissecting a rat brain. Here was advice from a consummate clinical child neurologist who could walk into a room and within seconds know the answer to the child’s presentation just by his keen diagnostic insights. I took this advice to heart. I passionately embraced the academic educator role. He was right, it fit me like a glove! 

As I look forward to our 50th anniversary meeting in Boston, I do so with a sense of sadness but also with thankfulness. I remember all the CNS meetings I would meet up with Bruce, chatting about life, the ever changing world of child neurology and what the future holds. Although he will not be there for this monumental anniversary meeting, he will definitely be represented by my presence. If I could meet up with Bruce one more time, I would tell him the role he played in my career as I serve as the President for the Professors and Educators of Child Neurology. I would tell him; he was right and that I pass his advice on to all the trainees who come through  our program. Find your “glove.” Find what gives you joy, passion, and relish in this amazing discipline you are a part of. 

Boston here we come!