A Time for Every Purpose

A Time for Every Purpose

Photo by Anthony Dodd under a Creative Commons license: BY-NC.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cornelia Betschart met Dr. John DeLancey at an international congress in Toronto two years ago. When he invited her to join his UMMS research group as a visiting fellow, she jumped at the chance. As a senior gynecologist at University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland, Dr. Betschart was thrilled to have an opportunity to join one of the top research labs in the world in her subspecialty area – pelvic floor dysfunction.

Dr. Cornelia Betschart
Dr. Cornelia Betschart

It took almost one year from when the invitation was extended until she actually arrived in Ann Arbor in August 2011, and Betschart was excited to begin. “I’ve spent the last 11 years doing clinical work around the clock. But research in medicine is also an important milestone for me. I believe that to advance our knowledge in clinical gynecology, we must do research.”

Betschart anticipates her stay here to last about 18 months. That’s a long time for a medical institution to do without a senior clinician, but the head of University Hospital was supportive of this fellowship and hopeful that her experience would lead to new ideas and approaches for faculty and for medical students.

“Students (at Michigan) are much more involved in research than in Switzerland. They start earlier and have a larger role. They have more opportunity to write scientifically, have greater exposure to statistics, and have opportunities to present their work,” Betschart says. “At home, we are more focused on patients and clinical work, and research is not the most favorite part of professional life for many residents. It’s regarded by some as painful work; work that distracts from the ‘real work.’” Betschart, however, sees the value. “The integration of research and clinical skills is a very special model of training, and I hope to combine it similarly when I return to Zurich.”

In the months that she has remaining in Ann Arbor, Betschart plans to make every minute count. She’ll continue playing violin with the Life Science Orchestra and attending classical music events. She’ll revisit the DIA and U-M museums, cramming into months what would take her years to experience at home. She’ll Zumba with friends and bike through the neighborhood parks. She’ll work with her new colleagues to build the research that feeds the literature. And she’ll enjoy the small luxury of having time to read and reflect, knowing that it is all time well spent. “This dedicated time for research will have a direct impact on how I consider my clinical work, which will have a direct impact on the patients I serve.”