Rising to the Task

surveyPatient satisfaction scores are on the rise in our Medicine Specialty Clinics. This is encouraging news that reflects the results of a team-based focus on improving patient care. It also provides me an opportunity to say a few words about an overlooked fact of daily life in Internal Medicine. Almost every faculty member, fellow, and resident spends the majority of their time quietly engaged in the physically and emotionally taxing labor of caring for our patients. Hours spent in clinics educating those newly diagnosed with diabetes; overnights monitoring someone after a kidney transplant; diligently rounding at the VA making sure each veteran receives deserved attention. Because this is something almost all of us do, it rarely gets the recognition it deserves. As physicians and health care providers, our performance is increasingly being measured in multiple ways. Although the goals of these measures are to promote excellence in our clinical mission, ultimately it is the dedication and effort of all of our clinical colleagues and care teams that contribute importantly to meaningful change. Keep up the good work!

We all recognize the challenges involved in providing care in a constantly changing landscape, oftentimes being asked to do more with less, and feeling that performance metrics might not fully capture the quality care that we provide every day. That is why, although we must focus on achieving these benchmarks, this department is also committed to improving the environment in which we practice and to providing tangible recognition to individuals who demonstrate our values. This ongoing work—changing the culture from the bottom up—will take time, but more important, it will take your input, and I encourage you to continue to share with me what ideas you have and what frustrates or inspires you. Relatedly, many of you may have seen our Chief Information Officer Dr. Maia Hightower’s call for applicants to the new role of Physician Informatics Officer. This team of 12 providers will work to identify specific causes of and solutions to EMR fatigue, among many other activities. I encourage you to explore the possibilities this position could offer and how small efforts there could produce large benefits for all your colleagues. In the meantime, you have my deep gratitude for the extraordinary and too-often-unsung work you all do every day.

wahlsCongratulations are due to Dr. Terry Wahls on the award of a $1 million grant from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Dr. Wahls, Clinical Professor of General Internal Medicine, will conduct a trial that compares two different nutritional regimens to determine their effectiveness at managing fatigue and other symptoms appearing in people living with multiple sclerosis. One diet, which Dr. Wahls famously used to minimize the symptoms of her own disease, is modeled on the Paleolithic diet, which often excludes dairy, grains, and processed foods in favor of high-protein meats, fruits, and vegetables. Participants in her trial will either follow this diet or another that has also met with success among people with MS, but emphasizes avoiding saturated fats. The trial will be subject to rigorous external peer review and data monitoring to ensure the integrity and applicability of the results obtained.


I would also like to congratulate Dr. Joe Szot on his recent appointment as Medical Director for Continuing Medical Education. For years, Dr. Szot has shown his dedication to our medical students as Associate Director for the Internal Medicine Residency Program. I am confident that in taking on this additional role with CME, Dr. Szot will demonstrate that same commitment to education, directed to faculty and practicing colleagues from around the region. The conferences and presentations that the College promotes have the dual effect of showcasing our institution’s cutting-edge work and of offering the chance for area providers to increase or polish their skills. Dr. Szot, in an expansion of his role as Vice Chair for Education, will also focus on faculty mentoring and career advancement for those on the clinical track. I am grateful to Dr. Szot for his innovative thinking and the experience he brings to bear in this important work.

Finally, I want to remind faculty and staff that the window for public comment on the University of Iowa Strategic Plan is set to close on October 1. This simple form allows for us all to contribute to the direction that this institution takes in the next five years. Whatever issue is of importance to you is likely to be affected by this plan. This is your opportunity to make that known; I hope you will take advantage of it.

About E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD

E. Dale Abel, MD PhD Francois M. Abboud Chair in Internal Medicine John B. Stokes III Chair in Diabetes Research Chair, Department of Internal Medicine Director, Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center Director, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism Professor of Medicine, Biochemistry and Biomedical Engineering

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