My career as a child & adolescent psychiatrist, with a focus on clinical research, has been exciting, challenging, and phenomenally rewarding. It has significantly evolved over the 14 years since completing my fellowship, from full-time clinician to full-time researcher/administrator.
I began as a fellow at Duke with very little research experience, no research training, lots of enthusiasm, and a wonderful mentor in John March, M.D., M.P.H. As a fellow at Duke, John provided me with guidance as to how to approach an academic career, and "socialized" me into the research field by introducing me to other leaders in child & adolescent psychiatry who served as teachers and ultimately collaborators. Dr. March served as the mentor on my K-23 Career Development Award despite a separation of over 1,000 miles, and continues to provide ongoing input and guidance. I cannot stress enough the importance of a supportive and dedicated mentor throughout all stages of one's career.
AACAP continues to be an important part of my professional life, linking me with colleagues and collaborators locally as well as internationally. As far as local participation, I began as a resident representative and eventually president of our regional Council. Nationally I have participated as a member of the Workgroup on Research, Pediatric Psychopharmacology Initiative, Development Committee, and Council. I have found AACAP to be an amazing opportunity to network within the profession, and despite practicing in a rural state I have always felt like I had a voice in child and adolescent psychiatry.
My academic home at the University of Nebraska Medical Center has been a third component which has played a big role in my career development. Working at an institution that not only allows individuals to develop areas of strength, but provides resources that cannot be understated. An academic home that is supportive financially, professionally, and interpersonally, provides a fertile ground for growth and success. With evolving communication technologies and the importance placed upon multi-institutional collaboration, a setting such as UNMC can provide great research opportunities previously associated only with larger academic institutions. My current role as Assistant Vice Chancellor for Clinical Research, in fact, focuses on external research collaborations between UNMC and all areas of medicine.
Mentorship, AACAP, and a great academic home have all played critical roles in shaping my career.
Chris Kratochvil, M.D.