With Endless Gratitude:
The 2015 Quilligan Scholars At SMFM 2015

We stood on the shoulders of giants. We walked amongst brilliant doers and dreamers. We learned from the MFM evidence-based trendsetters. In San Diego, our 2015 Quilligan Scholars cohort of residents met each other for the first time, we were paired with awe-inspiring mentors, and had the privilege to be the guests of Drs. Quilligan, Queenan, and Platt for a few days. In these few short days, our individual experiences were formative, empowering, and, as cliché as it sounds, truly life changing. This program is beyond compare!

It is such an honor to be part of the Quilligan Scholars Program and join the brilliant 2014 cohort of residents. The SMFM and Pregnancy Foundation application program describes the program’s purpose as one to:

Identify future leaders in perinatology ... and to offer them recognition, guidance, and educational opportunities to foster their careers. These individuals traditionally exhibit leadership, commitment, and interest in teaching, research, or public policy. Some of the activities provided by the program include paid attendance to the SMFM annual meeting, the provision of special courses and experiences, and the granting of personal mentorship from current leaders in the field.

We will argue that beyond achieving every goal of the proposed program’s aim, each of us departed to our home institutions with a newfound appreciation for what it means to be a mentor and educator. Our mentors included: Drs. Laura Riley, Alfred Abuhamad, Mary D’Alton, Joshua Copel, Kate Menard, Brian Mercer, Karin Blakemore, Dwight Rouse, and Alison Cahill. The mentors for the 2014 cohort included: Drs. Mike Foley, Aaron Caughey, Cathy Spong, Nancy Chescheir, Uma Reddy, Mary Norton, and Bill Grobman. In our opinion, it was a jaw-dropping, Hollywood celebrity A-list of perinatologists! It is hardly necessary for us to extol their academic virtues and accomplishments as their plentiful careers and successes speak for themselves. Rather, what we experienced as Quilligan scholars was their gift as teachers; their mentorship and absolute enthusiasm for MFM that inspired us to become better physicians.

Each mentor leader graciously gave a resident an entire day of the conference. We followed them around through their entire day’s events: their informal meetings with friends over coffee, committee meetings, business meetings in suites across the hotel, grant discussions, editorial reviews, poster viewings, et al. For one day we became their appendage and their SMFM sidekick. We lived a day in the life of these amazing clinicians.

Over the course of the meeting, the Quilligan Scholars Program empowered us to raise the level of discourse and the level of energy as we return back to our respective program – head in the clouds with both feet planted firmly on the ground. We, the 2015 Quilligan Scholars’, are incredibly indebted to so many of you for your support: the program’s organizers, its financial donors, and the mentors that gave us this opportunity and shared their contagious enthusiasm. Your gift has already influenced us to follow in your shoes and become better physicians, scientists, teachers and, mentors. Who knows, maybe we will get to be mentors for young Quilligan Scholars one day.

With utmost gratitude and thanks,

Yalda Afshar, Jacques Balayla, Mark Clapp, Ahize Eke, Ibrahim Hammad