Pathology is ripe with talent. From medical students across the world applying to PathMatch to the seasoned pathologists we’ve come to know and love, the present and future of pathology is bright and exciting. From our own experiences communicating with pathologists, we see the profession as filled with brilliant, friendly physicians who are unfortunately not always seen or appreciated. Enter CAP’s Resident of the Year. According to the CAP (@Pathologists) website, “The CAP Resident of the Year Award recognizes a Junior Member who has made outstanding contributions to the specialty of pathology, pathologists, laboratory medicine, and/or the general public.” This year’s recipient is Mariam Molani, DO, MBA.
A trailblazer in her own right, Dr. Molani (@drmarmolani) was born to Pakistani immigrants and grew up in Louisiana where she attended undergrad at Tulane University. She attended the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, where she completed her medical degree while also attaining a masters in business administration (MBA) in Health Care Leadership. She completed her residency in anatomic and clinical pathology at UT Southwestern (@UTSW_Pathology) in Dallas, Texas. She is currently a Cytopathology fellow at UTSW and plans to enter community/private practice within the greater Los Angeles area next year. Dr. Molani takes pride in "putting a face to pathology" and being a role model for students looking for greater exposure to the field. Her website, LibraMed, is an excellent online pathology resource and, in Dr. Molani’s words, “a place where students can explore pathology and find the motivation, mentorship, and resources they need to succeed, while also prioritizing self-care and balance as they pursue medicine.”
As one might expect from a brilliant physician, her response to our first question about what this award means to her was a humble nod to the “hard-working and talented trainees and practicing pathologists” who inspired her. We had a few more questions for Dr. Molani which she graciously answered and that we are excited to share with you.
Instapath: What does the CAP Resident of the Year award mean to you?
Dr. Molani: Wherever I look around me, I see so many hard-working and talented trainees and practicing pathologists, many of whom inspired me along my own career path. To be honored as a leader amongst such a group is truly a humbling experience. It means so much to me that my efforts to be an educator and role model for medical students interested in pathology would be recognized on such a large scale.
Instapath: What challenges did you face while in medical school and residency? How did you overcome these challenges? What "kept you going"?
Dr. Molani: I think the greatest challenge of medical school, residency, and fellowship is that you’re constantly inundated with information to learn and tasks to complete. I would often ask myself, how can I be a leader if I can barely stay afloat of my cases or all the reading I need to get done by tomorrow? The single best skill that helped me balance all my extracurricular pursuits and leadership positions alongside a full residency schedule was the ability to break down large tasks into bite-sized ones. Instead of tackling a big project head-on I would divide it into a list of small, achievable goals. After work, I’d try to tackle 1-2 of those goals every day. Before I knew it, I had achieved something big that seemed impossible at the beginning.
Instapath: How has your MBA prepared you to be a better physician?
Dr. Molani: I love that my MBA in health care leadership gave me dedicated time to explore topics that you simply don’t have time for in medical school and residency. Whether it was learning how to start a practice from scratch, how to analyze medical contracts, or courses about marketing and management, every semester exposed me to administrative skills I knew would be essential for me to understand the medical landscape on a larger scale. Initially, I wasn’t sure exactly how I’d apply my MBA, but I knew I wanted the repertoire of skills it offered so that no matter where life took me, I had the knowledge and the confidence to pursue leadership on a higher level. Now I can see how the concepts I learned in my courses directly apply to my role as a pathologist— the financial, management, organizational, social, and administrative skills directly translate to success in the laboratory and outside of it.
Instapath: Where does your drive for excellence come from?
Dr. Molani: I believe that excellence is a learned behavior—a culmination of little habits that stretch over many years. It’s focusing on a goal and working toward it one day at a time. It’s picking yourself up after failures and being open to constructive feedback and to pivoting and trying again. It’s thinking outside the box, taking chances, and taking creative approaches to difficult problems. It’s focusing on good communication skills and treating others with compassion and respect. Most importantly, it’s having integrity in your work and believing that nothing is given, and that everything is earned. I think a little dedicated effort in different spheres of your life and career can take you a long way when it comes to achieving “excellence.”
Instapath: Who are your mentors?
Dr. Molani: I am so grateful to be surrounded by people who consistently encourage me and support my dreams and ambitions. I would love to give a shout out to Dr. Ana Yuil-Valdes at the University of Nebraska, who was a force of positivity in my training, and who pushed me to put myself out there during my early years in residency when I was nervous and unsure of myself. My program director Dr. Charles Timmons at UTSW was of immeasurable support; he always made me feel valued at my program and encouraged me to get involved in as many leadership positions as I could. And where would I be without the support of my colleagues? Drs. Neda Wick (@NedaWickEdPath) and Adam Booth (@ALBoothMD) are a couple of close colleagues and friends that were always great to work with on numerous projects and always there when I needed a think-tank for a brainstorm session.
Instapath: What are your pursuits moving forward?
Dr. Molani: After fellowship, I plan to head into community practice in Southern California. Though I’ll be practicing in private rather than academic settings, I hope to continue to be involved in education through in-person and online platforms. I am excited to finally get my career off the ground and to be near my family, who are my greatest support!
We wish Dr. Molani the best of luck as she embarks on her career in community practice. We’re excited to continue sharing words of encouragement, advice and wisdom from pathologists at all stages of their career, including medical students who are aspiring pathologists. Would you like to share your path to pathology or road to success with your fellow colleagues? Just send us a DM on Twitter @instapathbio or email Kristin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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