Many responsibilities are pressed upon us as physicians and members of an academic medical center. As clinicians, our first responsibility is to our patients, who need our comfort, advice, and care. As educators, we are compelled to focus on our students and trainees, who need our guidance and instruction. As researchers, we need to be at the forefront of our scientific fields. However, it is also critical that we engage with the community that exists outside the institution. Faculty in our department have been accomplishing this in many meaningful ways, both within our region and nationally. Many volunteer their time because they recognize that their mission transcends our walls and that the impact of their skills and knowledge can be leveraged for a greater good. They take on this extra work without expectation of compensation or praise; they do so because they hear a call. I honor the work they do and the impact they have.
For more than three years, Dr. Colleen Campbell made calls, wrote letters, and went directly to the offices of state legislators and policy makers to advocate for a change she saw as necessary to public health and safety. She educated her colleagues and enlisted their aid in pursuit of a requirement that genetic counselors be licensed to practice in the state of Iowa. Precision medicine and interpretation of greater amounts of genetic data is increasingly central to the practice of modern medicine. Many of us are aware of the growth of genetic testing, but fewer understand the complexities and nuance in interpreting these data and applying it in clinical settings. Effective January 1, 2019, Iowans can be assured that anyone who practices as a licensed genetic counselor will have the training and credentials not only to guide our patients through their genetic data, but also that they are recognized and reimbursed for the care they provide. Congratulations and a thank-you to Dr. Campbell for your tenacious pursuit of this goal and for securing the well-deserved recognition for all genetic counselors in the state of Iowa.
Many of our faculty also become involved in national organizations to advocate for change at the federal level, understanding that our voices are louder when we speak in unison. The Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM) is one such organization whose influence is being felt. Dr. Melinda Johnson formed the Iowa Chapter of SHM in 2014 and has been a member at the national level of their public policy committee for five years. During that time, she has helped author white papers on Observation Care with recommendations to be included in the IMPACT and NOTICE acts. Through her work with SHM at the state and national levels, Dr. Johnson has advocated for change in a number of other areas aimed at increasing patient safety and system efficiency.
Another SHM member, Dr. Hilary Mosher, has demonstrated the importance of the intersection between health services research and public policy. Dr. Mosher and her team in the VA’s Comprehensive Access and Delivery Research and Evaluation Center (CADRE) contributed to the recent consensus statement from SHM on safer opioid use for inpatients published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine this month. Dr. Mosher and CADRE will now implement these guidelines in a pilot study under a VA quality improvement grant at the Iowa City VA Medical Center. Depending on the results of this pilot, the new opioid safety guidelines could be implemented throughout the entire VA medical system.
Our service also extends beyond advocacy and public policy to ensuring rigor in research. I share some recent appointments of our faculty that attest to this. Dr. Isabella Grumbach was invited to join the Vascular Cell and Molecular Biology study section, where she will help make determinations on the merits of NIH grant applications, among other responsibilities. She joins many others in our department who serve in this important way. Dr. Tom O’Dorisio serves in a similar capacity on the Neuroendocrine Task Force for the National Cancer Institute’s Gastrointestinal Steering Committee for clinical trials. Dr. Lee Sanders will serve on the board of directors of a chapter of the National Kidney Foundation with the goal of raising funds for and awareness of kidney diseases. All of their efforts, outside the expected requirements of their positions here, testify strongly to their willingness to contribute to a greater cause. Your engagement and service is recognized. Thanks for extending our institution’s influence outside our walls.
Being a Chief Resident represents an important commitment to service as well. Throughout their last year of residency, our rising Chiefs are also preparing to take on a demanding but crucial role in our Residency Program. Once installed, they work tirelessly. Not only do they serve as ambassadors between the residents and the faculty, they play a pivotal role in ensuring the academic rigor of our residency program. They build schedules, mentor interns, and even occasionally help arrange for late-night taco deliveries. It is an intense year for them and I am impressed every year by the diligence, skill, and the fresh perspective each new group of Chiefs brings to the role. I hope that you have already offered your congratulations to our recently announced Chief Residents for the class of 2019-20. I am confident they will amaze us all.