Patricia O’Sullivan Receives 2018 UCSF Lifetime Mentoring Award

By Kate Vidinsky

Patricia S. O’Sullivan smiles during a ceremony
Patricia S. O’Sullivan (center), EdD, listens to a speaker during a ceremony to honor her for the UCSF Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award. Photo by Susanna Frohman

Patricia “Pat” O’Sullivan, EdD, has been named the 2018 recipient of the UCSF Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award.

Each year, the UCSF Faculty Mentoring Program – part of the Campus Council on Faculty Life – presents the award to one senior faculty member who best embodies the principles and practice of mentorship.

O’Sullivan is a professor of medicine and surgery, director of research and development in medical education, and the endowed chair for surgical education in the UCSF School of Medicine. In these roles, she has supported the careers of hundreds of UC San Francisco faculty and aspiring educators around the world.

She received the prestigious award at a June 13 ceremony.

Patricia S. O’Sullivan poses with her husband, John Robbins, and daughter Aisling Robbins
Patricia S. O’Sullivan (center), EdD, poses with her husband, John Robbins, and daughter Aisling Robbins during the UCSF Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award ceremony, held at the Parnassus campus. Photo by Susanna Frohman

“Pat’s mentee relationships are warm, deep, longitudinal and mentee-centered,” said Associate Vice Provost Mitchell Feldman, MD, MPhil, during his remarks at the ceremony. “Unlike the giants of old, Dr. O’Sullivan’s goal is not to clone herself, but to build the next generation of medical educators by helping each of her many mentees find a path forward that allows them to have the career to which they aspire.”

O’Sullivan was recruited to UCSF in 2005 to expressly enhance and expand the University’s educational research and faculty development programs—a job in which, according to Feldman, she has succeeded brilliantly. UCSF is now recognized internationally as a top producer of medical educational research and a leading institution for advancing the quality of health professions teaching and fostering the careers of medical educators.

“This award makes me both humble and reinvigorated to be the best mentor I can be,” O’Sullivan noted in an interview. “It also serves as a testimonial and endorsement of the support UCSF has of a culture to help individuals develop, and I am proud to be part of that culture.”

Before coming to UCSF, O’Sullivan held faculty appointments at the University of Hawaii, University of Pennsylvania, University of Texas Health Sciences Center, University of Alabama, University of Connecticut, Rhode Island Hospital, and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Sirisha Narayana hugs Patricia O'Sullivan
Sirisha Narayana (right), MD, hugs Patricia O'Sullivan, EdD, who was her mentor. Photo by Susanna Frohman

Her distinguished array of prior appointments is matched by a multitude of awards. Most notably, O’Sullivan is a fellow of the American Educational Research Association, a recipient of the Merrill Flair Award of the Association of the American Medical Colleges Group on Educational Affairs, and a 2018 recipient of the Society of General Internal Medicine’s Award for Career Achievement in Medical Education.

According to O’Sullivan, to be a truly effective mentor, one must be available to mentees when help is needed and offer that help with a smile, while focusing on innovative solutions to get the work done. These qualities were echoed in many of the award’s nomination letters, which described O’Sullivan as someone who “holds her mentees to the highest standards,” “meets learners where they are,” and “listens and encourages and offers creative solutions.”

The UCSF Faculty Mentoring Program established the Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award in 2007. Recipients are selected through a nomination process and are assessed in four areas: their impact on mentees’ career development, the career productivity of mentees, nomination letters, and the breadth and depth of mentoring across schools, departments and campuses.

“Receiving this award affirms the importance of relationships that we build in academic medicine to help everyone succeed in whatever they pursue,” O’Sullivan said.

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