Last week, I had the privilege of recognizing the contributions of our departing Chief Residents to the Department of Internal Medicine. It was also an opportunity to hear their impressive Grand Rounds presentations. The Chief Resident position carries with it a great deal of responsibility to serve both as advocates for and mentors to our all of our residents. I have enjoyed watching our four graduating Chiefs grow over the course of this last year and my expectations are high as I follow their careers in the future. Though there will be plenty of opportunity to say farewell informally in the coming weeks, I asked each of them to say a few words to the Department about their experience, posted here.
Belated congratulations are due to Dr. Lauris Kaldjian, Professor of General Internal Medicine. In early April, Dr. Kaldjian was presented with the Merit Award by the Iowa Medical Society (IMS). This distinction is granted to few physicians, only those who have made outstanding contributions to the profession and to the state. Dr. Kaldjian holds the Richard M. Caplan Chair in Biomedical Ethics and Medical Humanities and is one of the leading experts on issues related to ethical and legal medical practice. His talent for leading productive and thoughtful discussions around difficult questions is well-known, and we are grateful for his service and dedication. Dr. Kaldjian joins a long list of distinguished Merit Award winners, filled with familiar names, such as Dr. John Eckstein (1984) and Dr. Jean Robillard (2011). Video of Dr. Kaldjian’s acceptance speech is available here.
Helping our patients manage their pain can present clinicians with very difficult choices as we weigh the short-term benefits against the long-term implications. This is why I am encouraged by the recent research and publication in Pain Medicine by Dr. Hilary Mosher, Clinical Assistant Professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine. Dr. Mosher and her co-authors, Drs. Brian Lund and Kelly Richardson, examined eight years’ worth of data from the VA on patients prescribed opioids. They have found that, despite the very real and growing national epidemic of opioid abuse, the proportion of new long-term users within the VA has declined between 2004 and 2011. Their work, in addition to devising a beneficial method of measuring opioid use by patients, establishes a strong foundation for future study, and provides an important approach to optimizing pain control, while limiting opioid dependency. For more information about their results and the next steps, I encourage you to read this post.
Finally, I wanted to share with you results of the recent survey of Department faculty sent out after the Research Town Hall. We received a significant number of responses, which will help guide our decisions on how to advance the research mission. An overwhelming number of faculty members, 88% of respondents, have committed to serving as mentors to younger faculty and trainees. As such, we will form three mentoring groups in basic, clinical, and population/health services research. There was also a majority support—more than 3 to 1—for establishing a new monthly seminar that will allow faculty to present and discuss issues directly related to their research. We are examining the schedule of future seminars to determine the weekday and hour that can best accommodate the most participants and attendees. Thank you for your encouraging feedback thus far and please let me know if you have any questions or ideas that you would like to contribute as we strengthen our research mission.