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 Suicide Prevention Award
Drs. Michael Wilson, Ronald Thompson Jr. and Angie Waliski are the recipients of the 2022 Innovation in Acute Care Suicide Prevention Award from the American College of Emergency Physicians and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (ACEP/AFSP). Last month, I noted that the team was featured in the American Psychiatric Association’s Psychiatric News for their pilot trial showing how effective peer support specialists can be in helping to prevent suicide in at-risk patients. Now, the ACEP/AFSP has lauded their work as a promising and innovative advance in suicide prevention. Peer support specialists are individuals who have previously experienced mental illness and are specially trained to help patients in the Emergency Department and other clinical settings.
Dr. Wilson is an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine and Psychiatry at UAMS. Dr. Waliski serves in the Center for Mental Healthcare and Outcomes Research in the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System and the Center for Health Services Research in the Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Thompson is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry in the Center for Health Services Research and the Center for Addiction Research. The team will be recognized at the ACEP Leadership and Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C., next spring. Kudos to these outstanding collaborators for their impactful work.
Ensuring Successful Residency Interviews
With the help of nearly 50 faculty physicians from across many specialties, members of this year’s senior class are better prepared for their residency application interviews. Mock residency interviews are an important component of the innovative residency prep course led by Dr. Karina Clemmons, Associate Professor of Medical Humanities and Bioethics, and Dr. Nicholas Gowen, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine. Thanks to this year’s volunteers, the team was able to offer every senior medical student an opportunity to complete a virtual practice interview session and receive valuable feedback. Students raved about the experience, with many saying the faculty volunteers helped put them at ease for the understandably tense interview process ahead of them. Click here for a list of the faculty volunteers. Kudos to all of them, along with Dr. Clemmons, Dr. Gowen and M4 Education Coordinator Jessica Cannon.
Remembrance & Gratitude
While many of us have Thanksgiving and the upcoming holidays on our mind, our first-year medical students paused this week to express gratitude for the individuals who contributed their bodies to UAMS and the Human Structure course that marks the start of their medical education. The annual Anatomical Donation Ceremony of Remembrance, held in Fred Smith Auditorium on Monday, was a moving tribute to 37 donors with music, poetry and more. (Watch for a UAMS web story soon.) To commemorate each donor, a student representative placed a white carnation in a vase on stage. As class member Bryan Strong explained, each of the donors taught the students about the fragility, beauty and complexity of the human body. And as Module Director Dr. David Davies, Professor of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, said, each donor bestowed a “burden” on students to become an excellent and compassionate physician. Like our students, I know we are all grateful for the gift and legacy of each of these donors.
Assessing Cancer Staging Guidelines
Congratulations to Hematology/Oncology fellow Dr. Alan Baltz, who was first-author on an article published this week in the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s JCO Oncology Practice. The study, “Clinical Impact of ASCO Choosing Wisely Guidelines on Staging Imaging for Early-Stage Breast Cancers: A Time Series Analysis Using SEER-Medicare Data,” was done on behalf of the ASCO Quality Publications Task Force. The analysis demonstrated a substantial decrease in imaging overuse in early-stage breast cancers correlating with the 2013 reinforcement of the ASCO’s 2012 Choosing Wisely guidelines. Additional UAMS collaborators on the publication included Eric Siegel, M.S., in the Department of Biostatistics and Dr. Issam Makhoul, Adjunct Clinical Professor in Internal Medicine.
World-Class Spine Surgery Expertise
The world-class surgical care and expertise available at UAMS was in the spotlight recently as UAMS hosted an Australian surgeon for a demonstration of an innovative, minimally invasive spine surgery technique performed by the Department of Neurosurgery’s Dr. Noojan Kazemi. As a teaching and observation site for robotic spine surgery and a technique called prone lateral lumbar fusion, UAMS has hosted surgeons from across the United States. The recent visit from the observing Australian neurosurgeon, Professor Greg Malham from the University of Melbourne, was the first international demonstration of this major advancement in minimally invasive spine surgery. Congratulations to Dr. Kazemi and his team.
Cleft Conference Contributions
Dr. Larry Hartzell, Associate Professor in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, and Dr. John Jones, Associate Professor in Pediatric and Special Needs Dentistry, are serving as faculty for the Cleft and Velopharyngeal Dysfunction Interactive Conference at Vanderbilt University in Nashville this week. Dr. Hartzell will present on pre-surgical orthodontics prior to cleft lip repair. Dr. Jones will be on a panel discussing case scenarios with challenging malocclusion and orthognathic indications. Dr. Jones and Dr. Hartzell will both serve on a panel focusing on teenage cleft patients. But those aren’t the only UAMS connections at the conference. Co-Course Director Dr. Ryan Belcher, now at Vanderbilt, received his medical degree at UAMS in 2013. Co-Course Director Dr. James Phillips completed his fellowship in pediatric otolaryngology at UAMS before joining the Vanderbilt faculty in 2016.
Putting Patients First
It is always such a pleasure to hear about the wonderful care our faculty physicians and other clinical team members provide. Several patient survey comments that were shared with me recently serve as reminders that this excellence occurs every day at UAMS locations across the state. Here are just a few examples.
At the UAMS West Family Medical Center in Fort Smith, an appreciative parent wrote to commend the care their children have received through the years and to specifically praise the “exceptional care” provided by Assistant Professor Dr. Kaethe Goodwin Chigumira. “She is personable, friendly and caring, and has a great bedside manner,” the commenter wrote.
Meanwhile, a patient at the UAMS East Family Medical Center in Helena was “ECSTATIC” to have found Assistant Professor Dr. Amber Norris. “She is everything I want and need from a physician,” the patient wrote. “So very happy with my visit, it almost brought me to tears to have someone listen to me.”
And at the UAMS Northwest Family Medical Center in Fayetteville, a senior Arkansan noted having a dozen current physicians and hundreds over the course of a lifetime – but no one more knowledgeable or compassionate than Professor and clinical geneticist Dr. Brad Schaefer. “Dr. Schaefer and his staff are the most caring and thorough people I have ever encountered in the medical field,” the patient said.
My thanks to these colleagues and all who are putting patients first!