Alexander Finch, M.D.: ‘Getting to work with the residents every day is the real gift’
Alexander Finch, M.D. (EM ’19), Department of Emergency Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, recalls interviewing for residency at Mayo Clinic — his first interview. “The chief resident talked about Mayo Clinic values — that the best interest of the patient is the only interest to be considered. We walked around the halls, and I heard one of the nurses on the tour repeat that sentiment. People kept saying it throughout the day and I realized Mayo Clinic is a place where people really live the value. I wanted to work somewhere dedicated to the needs of the patient. My wife and I moved across the country — from North Carolina. We’d never even visited Minnesota before. I was lucky to be able to stay on staff after residency.”
“I wanted to stay on staff here because I love to teach, so getting this award is a true honor.”
Less than two years later, Dr. Finch received a Teacher of the Year award from the Mayo Fellows’ Association. “I wanted to stay on staff here because I love to teach, so getting this award is a true honor,” he says. “Our department has so many incredible educators who are all deserving of this award. I’m humbled and inspired to continue to improve as an educator.
“Working with our incredible residents is the best job in the world. I have the privilege of meeting them on their path to achieving their vision and changing the world — from learning how to suture to being ready for anything that comes their way. My heart feels full.”
“Working with our incredible residents is the best job in the world. My heart feels full.”
Dr. Finch focuses on creating a safe space where trainees feel comfortable sharing what they know and don’t know, helping them through their struggles, and helping them recognize their expertise and greatness. “I try to empower everyone to realize their value as educators. Senior residents train junior residents, who train medical students. We all learn from each other. I want to make sure trainees know that I don’t know everything and have to ask people for help all the time. We’re all continuously learning. When I share my struggles, I hope trainees don’t feel so alone in theirs. Rather, I hope they can see me as someone they can trust and share their fears and flaws with.”
Dr. Finch says he learned from some of the best, citing the Department of Emergency Medicine’s Kristina Colbenson, M.D. (MED ’10), James Homme, M.D. (MED ’00, PD ’03, PDCMR ’04, EM ’07), James Colletti, M.D. (PD ’02). He mentions Benjamin Sandefur, M.D. (MED ’08), and Venkatesh Bellamkonda, M.D. (P ’07, EM ’10), as his primary mentors — both as a resident and faculty member.
“I’m the product of so many incredible educators because I’m a perpetual learner.”
“I’m the product of so many incredible educators because I’m a perpetual learner,” he says.
Dr. Finch says he feels fortunate to have a job where he takes care of patients on the worst days of their lives and trains the next line of physicians who will provide great care.
“I feel so inspired by my residents who work in emergency medicine every day. They’ve given me a great gift in the Teacher of the Year award, but getting to work with my residents every day is the real gift. They feel like family.”
“They’ve given me a great gift in the Teacher of the Year award, but getting to work with my residents every day is the real gift.”
One of Dr. Finch’s colleagues texted him when word of the Teacher of the Year award got out. He said, “Few things make you feel more satisfied professionally as when your peers and people you care about, such as trainees, give you a vote of confidence.” He wholeheartedly concurs.
Comments from trainees
- “Dr. Finch is exceptionally caring and generous to patients and trainees. He is kind, approachable and motivated to teach. He makes himself available to teach anyone anything at almost any time. All you have to do is ask.”
- “Dr. Finch is an outstanding clinician dedicated to teaching and great patient care! The culture he generates is one that Mayo’s founders would be proud of.”