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Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Carlyle Chan

For Carlyle Chan MD, the Clinical Scholars program was an important launching pad for his career as a academic psychiatrist and residency director. Chan applied to the Program in 1977, after reading about the Clinical Scholars program in a scholarly publication. He was completing his psychiatry residency at the University of Chicago Hospitals and Clinics and was looking for a way to expand his experiences after spending the previous three years in an intensive clinical residency.

Before beginning the fellowship, Chan was unsure about the direction his career should take, and didn’t know if he wanted to pursue a career in academia. It was his experience in the Clinical Scholars program, where he was able to concentrate on clinical research methodology and bioethics, which convinced him that he wanted to take the academic path. Twenty-eight years later, Chan is a Professor and Vice Chair for Professional Development and Educational Outreach in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin and is the school's CME Medical Director. He was a Psychiatry Program Director for almost 18 years.

For Chan, one of the most valuable things about the Clinical Scholars program was the chance to focus on research and academic studies. ”My residency was very demanding in terms of clinical time, and the Yale program allowed me to reduce my patient responsibilities and focus on learning about research and studying new subjects,” he told us about his fellowship. “I spent time taking courses in bioethics and evidence-based-medicine, which was a wonderful opportunity – both of which ultimately became subjects I studied and taught later in my career.”

Expanding his knowledge base was especially important, given that Chan went on to be a residency director and teacher. “What I learned as a Clinical Scholar became things I taught my own residents,” he told us. “And knowing that I was able to offer my residents something different from the then traditional psychiatry curriculum was a real confidence builder.”

After completing the Clinical Scholars program, Chan went on to pursue a career in the psychiatry and behavioral studies, and has been recognized for his outstanding work as an educator. He is a past president of the American Association of Directors of Psychiatric Residency Training and received the ACGME Parker J Palmer Courage to Teach Award from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. He also received the Association for Academic Psychiatry's Distinguished Senior Fellow Award and was elected to the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Society of Teaching Scholars.

Chan credits the Clinical Scholars program with giving him the training and direction he needed to pursue a career as an academic psychiatrist. “I learned whole new areas of expertise in evidence based medicine (at that time called clinical epidemiology) and bioethics that really took my career to another level - and the mentoring I received from Alvan Feinstein, who directed the Program at the time, was absolutely invaluable. The other fellows in both the Yale program and other RWJCSP programs also became lifelong colleagues”

Chan regularly recommends the Clinical Scholars program to his residents, citing the programs’ focus on mentorship, its rigorous training in clinical research and the opportunity to network. “It’s a great opportunity for someone who’s thinking about an academic career,” he says, “and a great chance to develop new skills sets, to expand your thinking, have new experiences and then move forward in your career."

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