Elisa Zenni, MD, says she feels humbled and honored to receive her latest pediatric academic distinction, an accolade that has connections to her family and a personal passion.
Zenni, a professor of pediatrics and associate dean for educational affairs at the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville, was selected in late April to be part of the inaugural cohort of the National Academy of Distinguished Educators in Pediatrics. The academy recognizes national experts in pediatric education, using a rigorous selection process and creating a program of consultation, mentoring and speaking activities.
She is one of just 16 members of the cohort. Members will serve three-year terms, with the option to apply for another term based on continued educational accomplishments and service. In a letter to Zenni, academy co-founders Latha Chandran, MD, and Teri Turner, MD, said she was chosen after careful peer review by expert educators outside the field of pediatrics.
“The reviewers were impressed by the depth and breadth of your educational experiences, expertise and contributions to the field,” Chandran and Turner wrote. “You should be very proud of the fact that your years of commitment and hard work is being recognized by your peers in such an elegant manner.”
Zenni, who has been at the UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville for nearly 25 years, says her goal with the academy is to give back to the national pediatric education community that has helped shape her career. She wants to “pay it forward” to rising educators through mentoring, consulting and visiting professorships, among other activities.
“It is an honor to be selected,” Zenni said. “I am grateful to my mentors who have taught and supported me over the years, as well as to the students, residents and fellows who have trusted me to teach them.”
Looking back, Zenni says her father — retired University of Connecticut and Hartford Hospital general surgeon Burton Alter, MD — has had a significant influence on her drive to pursue pediatrics with fervor.
“As long as I can remember, I have had a passion for working with children,” Zenni said. “My father was, and still is, a great role model to me and it seemed a natural fit to combine my love of children with my interest in medicine. Every interaction with every child and family reinforces that calling and motivates me to pass on this joy and honor to future generations of pediatricians.”
Senior Associate Dean for Educational Affairs