Who's Who

HomeATS CommunityWho's Who ▶ Who's Who: Kristin M Burkart, MD, MSc, ATSF
Who's Who: Kristin M Burkart, MD, MSc, ATSF

  • Give us your ‘elevator pitch’ biography.

I am an associate professor of medicine and the program director for the PCCM fellowship at Columbia University. My interests include trainee education, GME-policy/advocacy, physician well-being, and medical education – and I actively pursue these interests both locally and through national service opportunities. I am the chair of the ATS Training Committee, deputy editor for ATS Scholar, and a member of the Executive Committee for the ATS Section on Medical Education. I also serve on the board of directors for the Association of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Program Directors (APCCMPD) and chair the APCCMPD Education Committee. 

I am proud of my roots. My father is a physician and the first in his family to go to college. My mom is a registered nurse, as was her mother, and so is one of my sisters. I went to Albany Medical College, completed my residency at the University of Colorado, where I was a chief resident, and my fellowship at Boston University. In 2006, I joined the faculty at Columbia University.

As program director, I strive to foster development of my fellows into compassionate and exceptional clinical physicians, clinician-educators, and physician-investigators. I am proud of all them, past and present. They have diverse careers, are highly accomplished, and above all, they are exceptional physicians that provide compassionate care to their patients. 

I find great joy working side-by-side with exceptional medical educators across the country. We inspire each other to be innovative, create scholarship, and have fun while we do it. I am looking forward to new adventures as we launch ATS Scholar for which I am truly honored to be part of the editorial team.

  • What would you tell yourself as an Early Career Professional?

I would tell myself to find a team of mentors and be creative when building this team. I would emphasize the team concept, in that most (if not all) of us benefit from having different mentors for research/scholarship, leadership, and career mentoring. I would say that you do not need to be limited to your division or even your institution but it is important to find a local mentor, preferentially for your research/scholarship, when possible. Do not underestimate the value of peer mentors and sponsors from across the country. I interact regularly with mine and remain thankful for the opportunities I have gained through these relationships.

I would also tell myself to be thoughtful about saying “no” or “yes” to opportunities and have a five-year plan but don’t be rigid about this plan. Regularly self-reflect, adapt, and be open to new opportunities that create a different path. Follow the path that most excites you.

And don’t forget to “pay it forward”.

  • If you weren’t in medicine, and were in a different industry altogether, what would you be? 

This one is tough because I have wanted to be a physician for as long as I can remember. If I were to do something completely different, it would likely combine my love of the outdoors with my creative side and joy of photography. So, I will go with wilderness photographer. In reality, I have no idea what that life looks like, but I would give it a try!  

  • What is your favorite way to spend a day off?

I love doing anything outdoors and spending time with my family and friends. We are fortunate to spend our summer weekends at my parents’ house on a small lake where we waterski, paddle board, swim and hike. After work, I am frequently found at my sister’s place playing baseball or catching fireflies with my nephews. In the winter, I like skiing in Colorado, visiting with friends from residency, and snowshoeing in the Rockies.

  • What areas of medicine are you most excited to see develop?

There are many areas of medicine that I am excited to see developed but I want to discuss an area that I believe is important to medicine, as a profession, which may ultimately translate to improved care for all of our patients: improved well-being and decreased burnout for physicians and health care professionals.

I am excited to see how institutional leadership (physicians and administrators), national leaders and organizations work to identify, prioritize and address systems and process issues that are drivers of burnout.

As individuals, we must figure out how to take care of ourselves, allow ourselves time to recharge, and empower those around us to do the same. We are responsible for our own well-being. However, burnout cannot be fixed by individual interventions alone. It is not just an individual’s “problem to fix;” it is a systems issue. We need to continue to build and enable strong leaders who will work to eliminate drivers of burnout with the goal of promoting well-being in medicine.

  • What is one advancement in your field you’d like to see in your career?

I would like to see the continued advancement of medical educators through recognition of their contributions to the mission of academic medical centers (i.e., promotion, protected time), the growth of funding opportunities for education-based research, and opportunities for medical education scholarship.

We have made significant progress in these areas but there is still work to be done, and ATS plays a vital role to meet the needs of medical educators.  As I mentioned, I am really excited about ATS Scholar and the opportunity to publish medical education manuscripts.

It is truly an exciting time to be a medical educator!

  • Ok. Which statement did you make up?

Answer B: My family does have a cabin in the Adirondacks. It has been in my family for almost 100 years and I have stayed there alone. Okay, not completely alone- I had a dog with me. It can get a  little spooky at night, but it is a great place to study and get work done. In fact, the first time I stayed there was right after fellowship to get some quality study time in for pulmonary boards.  It is also my go to place to “unplug” and work on my own well-being.

And yes, it is true that I keep my work email off my phone!