Here are this week’s Accolades, a roundup of some of the honors and accomplishments of College of Medicine and UAMS faculty, staff, residents, fellows and students I’ve heard about recently!
Safer Walking for Better Health
The Arkansas State Physical Activity and Nutrition Project (SPAN), a CDC-funded program housed in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine’s Community Health and Education Division, is lending its expertise to a national effort to increase walking safety in rural communities for people of all abilities. The initiative is in keeping with SPAN’s goal to reduce obesity and increase physical activity in the Arkansas Delta and beyond.
The SPAN team was one of two recruited by the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) to participate in the Step It Up: Walkability Action Institute. SPAN and NACDD recently brought together community teams of local officials, public health experts and transportation planning experts from across the country for a four-day, applied-learning course. SPAN is providing technical assistance as the community teams use what they learned to develop action plans for improving walking safety in their communities. Special thanks to Leesa Freasier, M.Ed., and Alysia Dubriske, M.Ed., for their great work.
Surgical Research Soars
The Department of Surgery had a banner year for research in FY 2020-21, publishing 103 articles and other publications. That was more than twice many as the previous year – despite the many challenges of the pandemic. A big reason for the increase is the team in the Division of Surgical Research, which has worked tirelessly to initiate projects and support research initiatives of colleagues throughout the department and beyond. The team also has done a great job engaging students and residents in research. I join with Surgery Chair Dr. Ron Robertson in extending special thanks to Division of Surgical Research Director Dr. Marie Burdine, along with Dr. Hanna Jensen, Dr. Kevin Sexton and Dr. Lyle Burdine.
Engaging Virtual Learners
Learner engagement is an important topic in medical education and training as the pandemic continues to require many educational events to be conducted virtually. Dr. Karen Dickinson, Assistant Professor and Director of Interprofessional Simulation and Clinical Skills Training in the Department of Surgery, has been recognized for her expertise in this area by the Association of Surgical Education (ASE). As an invited guest on a recent ASE podcast, Dr. Dickinson discussed the work she led on behalf of the ASE Committee for Educational Technology on both the development of a tool to assess virtual learner engagement and a national survey on perceptions of virtual education events. She previously presented this research at plenary and podium presentations at the Surgical Education Week conference in April.
Several members of the inaugural class of Medical Scholars in Public Health (MSPH) took a moment last week to surprise Dr. Christopher Westfall with a presentation to thank him for initiating the program. The program serves as an educational bridge to medical school and/or a master’s in public health for promising college graduates from socially, economically or geographically disadvantaged backgrounds. It’s just one example of Dr. Westfall’s efforts to build an outstanding and diverse physician workforce in Arkansas during his time as Dean. The students presented him with a signed class photo. Click here for a photo of the presentation and to learn more about the MSPH program.
We recently learned that Forbes magazine has named UAMS to its 2021 list of Best Employers for Women. You may recall that this good news comes on the heels of UAMS being ranked seventh nationally on Forbes’ list of Best Employers for Diversity a few months ago. For me, these rankings represent more than just spots on national lists. They signify the determination and steady progress we are making toward being a university, health system and workforce that embraces diversity in all of its facets. As Dr. Cam Patterson notes in this UAMS news story, our diversity really is our greatest strength. The outstanding women on Team UAMS contribute to our mission in Arkansas in unique and myriad ways. Here’s to all of you – and to our continued work to create a more vibrant and diverse institution.