As one academic year draws to a close and as we prepare for the next, our department is currently engaged in an annual and very useful self-assessment. This allows us to celebrate our achievements, understand the opportunities for growth, and implement short-term adjustments necessary for staying on course toward our long-term goals.
One of the areas I remain consistently impressed with is our ability to successfully compete for extramural funds that leverage our unique strengths and our local assets to address needs of direct relevance to those that we serve. As a rural state, many of our patients travel great distances and for some with difficulty to come to Iowa City. Dr. Samantha Solimeo is one of many working toward a solution to this challenge. She recently received a small, short-term grant from the VA’s Office of Rural Health extended through the end of September of next year totaling more than $113,000. She will use these funds to study another VAMC’s use of a telehealth program to provide osteoporosis care to their rural veterans. The results of her feasibility study may help determine the potential for deploying such innovative approaches to the care of Iowa veterans and hopefully help others to leverage the role that technology could play in the care we all provide.
Being willing to embrace change and to continuously improve our quality and performance are guiding principles of this department and ones I see often reflected in our educators and their trainees. The monthly Morbidity, Mortality, and Improvement Conference, organized and led in part by one of our Chief Residents, does not shy from asking difficult questions about value and quality in terms of patient and provider safety. The supportive atmosphere produces imaginative and practical solutions in both small and large ways. It is encouraging to sit in on one of these sessions and watch honest conversation occur and know that the results of these conversations will have meaningful impact on those who trust us with their care.
The educators who guide sessions and conferences like these have much to do with that supportive but rigorous atmosphere. We should all be proud of the connections we make with our students and trainees in shaping their methods and even the ways in which they ask questions. Your efforts are recognized, particularly by Graduate Medical Education leadership. This year, the Department of Internal Medicine was recognized in every category of the GME awards, including two abstract awards, which tied for first place. Congratulations to every winner on your excellent work, and thank you.
Finally, it would be difficult to pause to recognize every new member that joins the department each week, but some arrivals remind me of new directions in which Internal Medicine is headed. Maggie Armstrong is the latest genetic counselor to join our department, and she will be working primarily with the Divisions of Nephrology and Hypertension and of Cardiovascular Medicine. Her addition represents our understanding that health care must include a willingness to incorporate the exploding new sources of information that will impact those we treat. Ms. Armstrong joins us with extensive experience and talent for helping patients understand this new information. Her arrival also offers me the opportunity to congratulate Dr. Colleen Campbell on the transformative impact that she has had on the institution and the Department in advocating for increasing the cadre of genetic counselors at UIHC. Welcome to Ms. Armstrong, and thank you to Dr. Campbell.