After nearly a decade of leading the MGH’s largest department, Katrina Armstrong, MD, chair of the Department of Medicine, hosted a special Grand Rounds presentation Jan. 27 – her last before leaving to take on a new role as executive vice president and dean of the faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Armstrong used the opportunity to reflect on the department’s achievements and challenges during her nine years at the MGH, which began April 15, 2013 – the day of the Boston Marathon bombing.

“I cannot image a more dramatic or better way to learn the values of an institution,” she said. “No one asked what they should do for themselves. They stood up and tried to understand how to care for others.”

That commitment to teamwork, bravery and respect was evident throughout her presentation as Armstrong discussed the department’s history and its leaders’ mission to add to the hospital’s rich history.

“We add value by creating connections, investing in our people and taking risks,” Armstrong said, highlighting departmental efforts in each of these three areas.

Armstrong stressed the importance of creating connections, highlighted the formation of clinical, community and education councils and a diversity and inclusion board. The department has also focused on sharing information, developing best practices and launching new departmental programs to bring its faculty together.

Investing in people within the Department of Medicine is the most important thing its leadership can do for staff, Armstrong says. During her tenure, several recognition and innovation programs were created and the Center for Physician Well-Being was launched.

None of these new initiatives would be possible without taking risks. Within the Department of Medicine, these chances often mean seeding transdisciplinary programs such as the Rural Health Program and Genomic Medicine Unit that can grow and flourish in the future.

“It’s been an incredible experience to watch our programs grow,” Armstrong said. “They will become what the department is as we move forward. It will become about those connections, about the people, about our ability to take a risk and step up to answer a question.”

Armstrong ended her talk with a heartfelt message of appreciation to Department of Medicine residents for going above and beyond in all they do.

“I believe in the future of medicine that the residents will create,” she said. “And it’s been an unbelievable honor and privilege to be part of this. It’s this future that I could not be more excited about – being led by our residents to achieve all we know is possible.”

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