Employee of the Month -- Michelle Lee

September 2017, Medicine Residency and Educational Programs

Michelle Lee, recruitment and alumni relations administrator for the Medicine Residency and Educational Programs, is seen as something of a superwoman in her division. “She exemplifies dedication to her job while having a great attitude and treating others with great hospitality!” Katherine Ozeki, MD, said. Lee, who came to Stanford in March 2015 after working in academic advising and student affairs for the UC system, has become, as Audrey Holmes puts it, “a gem in our fast-paced office.”

Lee’s duties vary throughout the year. From October to January her main focus is the recruitment initiative for the Internal Residency Program which, as she explains, “means that I handle the interview schedules for all of our applicants (375+) and make sure their days are smooth despite the many moving parts.  I manage all event logistics (dinners and day of interview) and communication with the applicants and faculty.” She also develops and maintains relationships with alumni. Then, from March to June, she organizes the incoming intern appointments. But that’s not all—during other seasons she organizes events for the residents and serves as the “unofficial graphic designer and photographer” for the program, which she calls “a very fun part of my job.”

Always smiling

Her enthusiasm is clearly catching. One of the first things people mention about Lee is her ever-present smile. “Her beautiful smiles and positive spirits really made a huge impact on all of us!” Emma Li , MD, said. Holmes adds that Lee is “always warm” with “enthusiasm and patience that shine through in every moment.”

And her smile comes with tenacity—Lee is described several times as “integral,” with a noteworthy work ethic. She’s sometimes found “quietly working on weekend days,” even when she doesn’t need to, and often stays late or arrives early to take pictures of off-hours events. Andrew Chang, MD, calls her “an irreplaceable engine of physician staffing for Stanford Healthcare.”

Recruiting success

But beyond her attitude, the achievement most cited by her colleagues is her work with residency recruitment.

Karina Delgado-Carrascro explains it this way: “This year Michelle led an exceptional recruitment season for the Medicine Residency Program. She is responsible for scheduling 350+ residency candidates, and 700+ interviews with faculty spanning over 14 interview days between November-January. Even during her busiest interview days, Michelle goes above and beyond to be friendly, enthusiastic, available and accommodating to the candidates and colleagues…Candidates often know her by name and personally thank her for accommodating their scheduling requests on interview day.”

Lee’s impressive efforts netted impressive results.  Holmes breaks down the numbers: “Michelle's organization and emphasis on the details played a large role in our success. Our UIM (underrepresented in medicine) and Translational Investigator Pathway (TIP) Residents increased exponentially. We have normally matched 1-2 UIM applicants but this year we matched 7. We have previously matched 2-3 TIP applicants but this year we matched 9.”

Mala Mandyam, MD, calls this year the “most successful/diverse recruitment period yet!,” crediting Lee’s efforts with interview days, pre-interview dinners, and post-interview communications, among other things. Matthew Stevenson, MD, agrees, “She deserves much of the credit for the stellar intern classes I've worked with since coming to Stanford.”

Ronald Witteles, MD, also describes Lee as “particularly effective/vital in her role in this year’s intern recruitment.  Michelle helped to lead our focus this year on physician scientist recruitment and recruiting a diverse intern class, and thanks in no small part to her efforts, we were extremely successful on both fronts," he says.

A team player

For her part, Lee loves her division. “I love working with my team,” she says. “It’s great to work with people who are creative, fun, and put as much effort into their work as you do.  We may work extra long hours at times, but we have laughs and overall it’s fun.  We also get to work on special events for the 120+ housestaff here and it’s great to see them excited too.”

Outside of work, she loves to travel (she recommends Bryan Preserve in Mendocino, “where you can kiss giraffes”). She’s already looking forward to 2018, when she’ll take a trip to Japan for the snow festival and then go to Korea for the next Winter Olympics.