Eileen Barrett ’95 earned a B.S. in biology at Union College before earning an M.D. from Georgetown University School of Medicine and an M.P.H. from UNC-Chapel Hill. Today she’s an internal medicine hospitalist and medical educator at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where she’s been practicing for five years. Eileen sees patients and directs Continuing Medical Education at UNM. She is also director for GME Wellness Initiatives in the School of Medicine. Previously, Eileen worked for Navajo Area Indian Health Service for almost ten years (including in Shiprock, N.M., and Gallup, N.M.). In between positions, she did clinical volunteering in Myanmar, Thailand, and Sierra Leone, including doing disaster response medicine during the Ebola outbreak. Eileen and her husband, Sam, love to travel, read, ski and hike with their daughter, Daisy. Most of Eileen’s community engagement has been through medical professional societies. She recently concluded a four-year term as a regent of the American College of Physicians – the largest medical professional society in the world. Prior to that, she served on ACP’s Board of Governors for four years. Eileen is also a five state chapter/district chair for the Society of Hospital Medicine (a medical society representing hospitalists).
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your career or volunteer activities?
The most rewarding aspects are contributing to something with others that’s larger than any of us.
Who inspired/inspires you, both professionally and personally?
Drs. Susan Hingle and Darilyn Moyer are wonderful colleagues, friends and mentors who are staunch advocates for a more inclusive, equitable and just healthcare system. Sam MacBride is a stalwart feminist who believes in doing the right things for the right reasons. Anyone who provides unexpected kindness, works for equity and creates beauty for others to enjoy.
What advice would you offer today’s women students, not just at Union, but across the country?
If you want to go fast go alone, but if you want to go far, go with others. I don’t know who said this, but it’s the best advice. That and don’t be beholden to the tyranny of low expectations – be a disrupter for the benefit of others.
What was your most formative experience at Union?
Tough to say! The national health services term abroad was so formative to my career and professional trajectory, as were faculty like Professors Robert Olberg, George Smith, Carol Weisse and Robert Baker. They took so much time to know students as people and were so available to answer questions, support us doing more and doing better.