Mentoring Profile: Gail Basch, MD, Rush Medical College

The Rush Women Mentoring Program fosters professional development and a sense of community and collaboration among women faculty at Rush University. In this series, we highlight program mentors and mentees and learn more about how mentoring has impacted them.

Gail Basch, MD, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry, Rush Medical College, joined Rush in 2004.

Tell us about your background.

I serve as director of the Section of Addiction Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry at Rush. I am a diplomat of the American Board of Addiction Medicine, a fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine and an associate professor at Rush Medical College. I am also a graduated senior scholar of the internationally recognized Alcohol Medical Scholars Program. This organization’s website provides the college drinking presentation for teaching and reference, which I created. I am also an active member of the American Board of Addiction Medicine. I received my medical degree from Chicago Medical School in 1988 after completing my undergraduate studies at Loyola University Chicago.

My recent appointments include chairperson of the Rush Professional Advocacy Committee and Wellness Liaison Advisor. I also teach and organize addiction medicine curricula for medical students and residents. I serve as assistant director for medical resident Training on the SAMHSA-supported grant-funded program, “Rush University Life Course Screening Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment.” I recently presented  “The Science of Addiction” and served as a panelist at the 2016 National Association of Community Health Center’s Chicago Expo. I have given grand rounds presentations on alcohol use disorders, substance use disorders, substance use disorders in the older adult, college drinking, SBIRT and hallucinogens. Other participation has included the Schwartz Center Rounds event, “Heroin in Our Hallways,” as well as the Kennedy Forum’s On the Table Your Voice Matters event, “Revisiting Opioids: New Strategies for Proper Use, Abuse Prevention and Treating Addiction.”

What inspired you to get into your field?

My focus of interest is addiction medicine. I treat patients, and I teach medical students, residents and colleagues. I chair the professional advocacy committee, which offers support to impaired medical professionals.

What excites you about your work at Rush?

I completed my psychiatry residency at Rush University Medical Center in 1992 and consider Rush my home.

What is your opinion of mentoring and sponsorship?

Without mentorship, one often feels untethered. That was certainly true in my case early in my career and contributed to depression and impairment. Now, as a physician in recovery, my message is, “Learn from your mistakes. Ask for help. Get a mentor. Don’t keep secrets.”              

Do you have tips or advice you would recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?

Professional isolation is never a good idea. I never feel alone at Rush.

What are your hobbies? How do you like to spend your free time?

I am a mother, a wife, a physician, a daughter, a sister and a friend. Time left over is spent enjoying the simple things. On occasion, I love to travel, ride horses and eat donuts.