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!
National PM&R Award
Congratulations to Dr. Kevin Means, Professor and Chair of the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, on being selected to receive the Distinguished Member Award from the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPM&R). The award honors pioneering physiatrists, clinicians, researchers and public servants who, like Dr. Means, have made significant contributions to the specialty and to individuals with disabilities and populations at risk for disabilities. Dr. Means will be honored at the AAPM&R Annual Assembly in November. He has been a leader in PM&R clinical care and training in Arkansas for over 35 years as a founding faculty member of the department at UAMS. He also has served as Medical Director for the Baptist Health Rehabilitation Institute since 1997.
The UAMS ECMO Team ended last week on a high note, successfully completing extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) treatment of the third and fourth patients to receive the life-support technology at UAMS for severe complications of COVID-19. The team has a 100% success rate with ECMO to date, setting the first four patients on the path toward recovery. ECMO technology externally pumps and oxygenates the blood of a patient, allowing the heart and lungs to rest for days, weeks or even months. We once again salute the entire ECMO team for their dedication and hard work to get this vital service off to such a remarkable start.
Dr. Ramona Rhodes, Associate Professor of Geriatrics and Associate Director for Health Services Research in the Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, has been elected to the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) Board of Directors. The AGS provides leadership on geriatrics patient care, research, professional and public education and public policy for health care professionals, policymakers and the public. Dr. Rhodes is passionate about examining disparities in health care for older adults and those at the end of life. She currently chairs the AGS Ethics Committee and is Section Editor for Ethnogeriatrics and Special Populations for the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
Welcome, Medical Scholars in Public Health!
We were delighted to introduce the inaugural class of our post-baccalaureate program, Medical Scholars in Public Health (MSPH), at a June 9 reception. The program is a collaboration of the colleges of Medicine, Public Health and Pharmacy and is directed by the Department of Emergency Medicine’s Dr. Jerrilyn Jones. Associate Dean for Student Affairs Dr. Sara Tariq chaired the MSPH planning committee at the request of now Transitional Dean Dr. Christopher Westfall. Many UAMS leaders were instrumental in developing the MSPH program. I hope you will take a moment to read about the initiative and the reception here.
Meanwhile, a warm welcome to our pioneering MSPH students: Austin Anderson, Michael Bunyard, Florenz Cruz-Artiga, Samuel Edogun, Madison Hershberger, Savannah Hickman, Tierra Holland, Xavius Hymes, Kayla Jimmerson, Maria Meneses-Ramos, Nidal Shah, Xochitl Shields, Stefany Sierra, Alexandria Smith and Savannah Stacks. We are so glad you are here!
Mindfulness Meets Anatomy
What may seem like an unlikely intersection of mindfulness and work in the Anatomy Lab is addressed in a thoughtful article by Dr. Edgar Meyer, Assistant Professor of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, in Anatomy Now, the newsletter of the American Association for Anatomy. Dr. Meyer, a member of the association’s Committee for Early-Career Anatomists, discusses the value of incorporating mindfulness practices into the daily lives of anatomists, anatomy educators and students who work in the anatomy lab. Dr. Meyer brings expertise to the topic from his role on the faculty team that facilitates mindfulness sessions at UAMS.
In the Spotlight
I recently shared the great news that Dr. Jerrilyn Jones, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine, has been selected to receive the Arkansas First Lady’s Woman in Public Service Award from the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas, an honor highlighted on the cover and inside the June issue of Little Rock Soiree. It was also a joy to read about Dr. Jones and Dr. Ronda Henry-Tillman, Professor of Surgery and Chief of Breast Oncology, in Soiree’s “Women to Watch 2021” special section featuring Q&As with outstanding professionals who are making an impact in health care, business, philanthropy and the community.
Pediatric Angioplasty Insights
Dr. Harrison Cobb, an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and pediatric cardiologist at Arkansas Children’s Northwest, is the first author on an article in Catheterization and Cardiovascular Interventions, the international journal of the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography & Interventions. “Cutting balloon angioplasty on branch pulmonary artery stenosis in pediatric patients” is the culmination of research he conducted with Pediatric Cardiology colleagues during his fellowship at UAMS and Arkansas Children’s prior to joining the faculty last July. Associate Professor Dr. Michael Angtuaco is the senior author on the paper.
Two years ago, five M3 and M4 medical students were recruited as “Anatomy Scholars” to serve as teaching assistants in the Human Structure course for freshman medical students. The program – now entering its third year – has been a resounding success. Kudos to Module Director Dr. David Davies and the entire anatomy teaching faculty – and the outstanding students who set a very high bar as the first scholars. The inaugural students included 2021 graduates Drs. AlleaBelle Gongola, Jared Gowen, Hamilton Newhart and Merry (Molly) Peckham, who were juniors when the program started in 2019, and Dr. Zachary Schwartz, who was then a senior.
The Anatomy Scholars presented medical and surgical education papers in a weekly journal club, devised a survey, and began working on a manuscript and research abstract. This month, they received word that their manuscript “Anatomy Scholars Program for Medical Students Entering a Surgical Residency” has been accepted for publication in the journal Medical Science Educator. Last fall, the group’s first abstract, “Anatomy Scholars Program Develops Nontechnical Skills in Medical Students,” was published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons. Faculty contributors on the publications included Dr. Davies and the Department of Surgery’s Dr. Mary Katherine Kimbrough and Dr. Carol Thrush, along with Rebecca Reif, MHA.
Last fall, two extraordinary M3 students, Jake Allison and Alexander Kwok, served as Anatomy Scholars, which required a concerted and creative response to restrictions posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, the Human Structure team looks forward to working in the dissection laboratory with our five new 2021 Anatomy Scholars: senior Paige Gocke and juniors Brian Bumpous, Mallory Heft, Kyle Jackson and Carter Pacheco. These excellent students were selected from a very competitive pool of applicants. Congratulations!
2021 graduate Dr. AlleaBelle Gongola, one of the Anatomy Scholars noted above, also was the first author on a paper about the impacts of smoking and alcohol on mortality and complications in rib fracture patients treated at UAMS. The paper has just been published in Trauma Surgery & Acute Care Open. Her primary mentor was Dr. Kyle Kalkwarf, Assistant Professor in the Division of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery. Dr. Gongola starts her General Surgery residency at the University of Kentucky Medical Center this summer.
Above & Beyond
Finally this week, it is a great pleasure to congratulate this year’s recipients of the Chris Hacker Awards for Excellence in Medical Ethics. Kudos to all three honorees for going above and beyond in demonstrating exemplary commitment to ethical issues that impact patient care at UAMS. The University Hospital Ethics Committee presents the annual award to a faculty member, a non-faculty staff member and a resident.
Dr. Nikhil Meena, Associate Professor in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and Director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit, was nominated by many colleagues because of his compassionate work with patients and their families, often in very challenging circumstances requiring difficult conversations. “He handles all encounters with empathy and authenticity,” a colleague wrote. And while COVID-19 ramped up in Arkansas, Dr. Meena “rose to the challenge,” spending continuous days and nights at the hospital to fight for critically ill patients. “Throughout, Dr. Meena continues to impart his generous spirit with patients and colleagues alike.”
Surgery/Trauma APRN Britney Beumeler was honored as a “fierce patient advocate” whose compassion and commitment to medical ethics has shined more than ever during the pandemic. Adamant that no patient dies alone, she has sat with dying patients and held their hand when families could not be present. Before visitors were again allowed in the hospital, she often wheeled patients down to the first floor so they could see their family members through the windows.
Obstetrics and Gynecology Chief Resident Dr. Georgia Gamble was honored for her work with interdisciplinary colleagues to work though ethically challenging situations and for serving as a strong advocate for patients. “Dr. Gamble handles difficult situations with ease and always puts the patient’s needs first,” a nominator wrote. “She has shown honesty and integrity with difficulty issues.”