Mackenzie Harbin, MD, is gynecologic-oncology fellow (PGY-7) at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. Originally from Frankfort, Ky., she cherishes the opportunity to return to the Bluegrass to care for women in the Commonwealth.

For Women in Medicine Month in September, the college shines a spotlight on Dr. Harbin’s leadership in graduate medical education and her advice for the next generation of residents and fellows.

Q: What are some of your leadership roles training at the UK College of Medicine?

A: While training at UK, I have sought out additional educational and leadership opportunities. I participate in clerkship didactics for our third-year medical students and assist with the endocrine and reproductive course for the second-year medical students. As fellows, we also have the opportunity to lead our inpatient service team and work closely with residents and medical students. 

Medical education and leadership are passions of mine, and I am fortunate to have great opportunities to get involved in the College of Medicine. 

Q: Why did you feel it is important to pursue professional development as a resident?

A: My personal life motto, Kaizen, is a Japanese philosophy that means "constant improvement." This guiding principle has helped push me through medical training and inspired me to continuously improve myself. While at UK, I have had the opportunity to pursue professional development programs including the Emerging Leaders program and the Residents as Teachers program. I am currently participating in the Quality Improvement/Patient Safety certificate. Having these opportunities has boosted my knowledge and confidence as a physician and mentor preparing for the next steps in my career.    

Q: Why are you pursuing medicine as a career?

A: Similar to many physicians, a career in medicine was a goal of mine from a young age. Through my education, experiences, and training I have found the perfect niche for my professional interests and personal passions. Gynecologic oncology is such a unique field combining complex pelvic surgery with the ever-changing landscape of cancer care. I particularly enjoy the deep patient connections forged while caring for women through their cancer journey. I love that a career in medicine offers such a wide breadth of specialties so that each person can find their fit.  

Q: What advice do you have for future residents and fellows?

A: Learning opportunities are everywhere! Learning how to be a good physician involves so much more than book knowledge, and there is something to learn from every experience. Some of the most challenging things to learn – delivering bad news, discussing sensitive topics, demonstrating compassion – will never be learned in a textbook. These are learned from observing mentors, emulating behaviors, and practicing. Use every experience to grow, learn, and shape yourself into the physician you aspire to be.