In the spirit of Super Bowl 51 today, I wanted to write a post about a concept that has always fascinated me: "COACHING TREES". In the NFL, there are a number of legendary coaches who have spawned legacies of future head coaches that have worked under them & have gone on to have very successful coaching careers, and many have actually created their own trees.
The head coaches for Super Bowl 51: The New England Patriots head coach (Bill Belechick) is a direct 'decendant' of Bill Parcells; the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons (Dan Quinn) is a 'decendant' of Steve Mariucci, who decended from Mike Holmgren, who ultimately decended from the legendary Bill Walsh. 12 future NFL head coaches worked directly under Bill Walsh, and 32 more future head coaches worked under those 12.
So what does this have to do with ANYTHING?
Last night, I had an amazing conversation with Dr. Nikki Conkling, a plastic surgery resident at UCSF, and I asked her, 'Nikki - what is your DREAM of dreams?' Her response, "I would love to be a leader in academics...I know so many women in my generation who would make excellent leaders."
It was an inspiring thing to hear. But then I thought about it, and of course, the natural tangent was to the NFL (LOL). I am seeing trees develop all over the place, and it is f*cking amazing.
Case-in-point, Dr. Paula Ferrada has created an amazing tree as the Director of the Surgical Critical Care fellowship program at VCU - I have featured Dr. Aditi Kapil, who trained at VCU under Dr. Ferrada & is now a Critical Care Surgeon and Attending Faculty member. Dr. Sarah Oltmann wrote passionately about the 'coaches' & mentors (3 in-particular) that helped her get to where she is today, & she is passing that on to others now at UTSW. What makes Dr. Tiffany Moon so compelling? The fact that she has received a number of awards voted on by her peers for excellence in teaching.
The women pictured are just a few examples of many that have made teaching a priority. You don't need some fancy academic title to teach, nor do you need the letters M.D. behind your name to infuse your passion for surgery by 'coaching' others who are coming up the ranks. If a surgical team is only as strong as its weakest member, then let's hope there are great coaches for every role.
This is not a gender thing at all, but I am so glad to see women stepping up to create trees that will only continue to grow with time. It's inspiring and amazing - if you don't have a tree today, plant the seed with your time & patience. When all is said-and-done, just like the legendary Bill Walsh, your career legacy will be defined by what you've passed on to others through Teaching, Coaching, and Mentoring.