Dana Brent, executive coordinator with the George Washington University (GW) Medical Faculty Associates (MFA) medicine clerkship programs, is a special, invaluable presence in medicine: not only is she inspired by the students she supports, but she is also an inspiring person herself. As a single mother of the three boys, she worked her way through school and up the ladder at the GW MFA. Over the years, she’s employed her natural nurturing skills, caring for her students as she did her own children. Here, she takes us through her life at the GW MFA, how she maintains her boundless compassion, and what she loves the most.
What is your role at GW, and what does it entail?
Brent: As the medicine clerkship executive coordinator for more than 15 years, I am charged with running the third- and fourth-year medical student clerkship programs for more than 200 students rotating in the Department of Medicine. I am responsible for the acting internship and visiting students as well. I address student concerns and advocate for them, acting as a first-contact liaison to the medicine clerkship director. I manage the daily operations of the student office and the clerkship, organize and prioritize necessary tasks, initiate changes, and resolve issues as they arise. I create student schedules and clerkship materials for each rotation, monitor evaluations, maintain student files, proctor exams, prepare data analysis reports, participate in preparing department letters of recommendation, and so much more.
How did you get started at GW?
Brent: I came to GW through my externship while attending school to become a medical assistant. I was originally in the Department of Neurology, but in 2004, I asked to be transferred so that I could get more experience in the medicine department. When I was done with my externship, two months later I was hired as a medical assistant for the Department of Medicine. I stayed in that position for two years before becoming an assistant coordinator. After a few months, I moved to my current position.
What are some of your proudest accomplishments?
Brent: I am particularly proud of my amount of time here (17 years) along with my growth. Not just my growth in my position, but also the growth in me as a person. I can remember the young Dana starting off with three young kids. I was a single mom after my kids’ father passed away a few years before I started at GW. I was nervous having to raise my sons and work full time, but I knew I had to excel. I remember having to push my way through while learning to retain so much information. Now, I am able to help others get the answers they need quickly, especially for the students! I am also a proud mom of my sons for attending college. These are great accomplishments that I could not see back then.
What lessons have you learned while working here?
Brent: A major lesson learned while working at GW is that we all have a BEGINNING and just need someone to believe in us. Sometimes people don’t trust students in training (such as the medical assistant student, medical student, and resident). I know that sounds funny, but it is true. This is why my job is important to me. We all have to start from somewhere to gain the experience necessary to develop a great team and offer the best student education and patient care. When I am a patient, I always make sure that students are welcomed in all the procedures that I need.
What excites or inspires you the most about your job?
Brent: I get very excited at the galas and graduations to see these students move on to the next level. Becoming a resident and physician has to be a dream come true for them, especially after attending school for so long. That is why I address all physicians as “Doctor,” [instead of something more casual], because I feel that they work hard and deserve it. I’ve watched many of them grow and they have watched me grow, so their success is very important to me.
Anything you’d like to add?
Brent: I am so thankful! That’s all!