"If you are interested in applying for the BFEF fellowship, the
application can be found at the link here. You may also contact the
fellowship director Kathryn Fraser at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
The job of residency behavioral
scientist is complex. I was lucky to have had a mentor when I started. This was an unusual circumstance. Most
behavioral scientists work alone and training is limited. For example, one of
my colleagues was simply handed a box of old teaching files as his/her orientation
to the job.
About 7 years ago I was offered a
chance to be a small group mentor for a new program: the STFM Behavioral Science/Family
Systems Fellowship Educator Fellowship (BFEF). I felt honored and excited, and wondered what
would evolve. It turns out that agreeing
to be part of this effort has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my
professional life. The BFEF is a year-long
mentorship program for new behavioral scientists.
Since it began, more than 100
behavioral scientists have gone through the BFEF program. Fellows are coached in groups of four by two seasoned
faculty mentors: a family physician and
a behavioral scientist. Groups meet in
person at two conferences, and monthly through conference calls. Co-mentors strive to support each other, while
creating a space for professional metamorphosis for the fellows.
I have now coached two groups of
fellows. Each year when I meet the new fellows they talk about struggling to create
a professional identity and understanding the intricacies of the job. Throughout
the year together we celebrate successes, provide basic curricular resources, problem
solve around professional challenges, and help fellows develop a scholarly
By the end, having been initiated into a group of creative and
committed educators, fellows are more confident in their professional
identities. The mentees’ trust,
vulnerability and appreciation have helped me to become a better teacher and
more confident in my abilities as well.
My co-mentors have also taught me to be more skillful as a leader and
Over the years the roles of mentee and mentor
give way to that of colleagues and friends. I treasure my connection with this
growing community of dedicated people who share the vision of a more integrated
and humane medical system, aspire to lead, and are always willing to listen and
share resources. We continue to evolve and grow together in ways we never imagined.
Valerie Ross MS, LMFT,
has been Director of behavioral science for the University of Washington
Family Medicine Residency since 2003.
Her academic interests include:
relationship centered care, narrative medicine, direct observation for training
residents in patient centered skills and self-assessment, complexity in primary care, and mind-body
medicine. Her professional writing has focused on narrative ideas, direct
observation, and complexity care plans. Lately, she has been enjoying exploring
the application of theater improvisation in medical training (medical
improv). She loves spending time with
family and her wonderful 6yo golden retriever, playing cello, practicing yoga
and meditation, and hiking in the beautiful Northwest.