This time of year is one of reflection and farewells. Next week, the Internal Medicine Residency Program will host its annual event to celebrate our graduating residents. I appreciate meeting friends and family who attend, because it gives me a chance to let them know just how important their loved ones have been to our Department. I can speak both personally and on behalf of the faculty that we have been honored to serve as your mentors and instructors during this critical part of your careers. Though we have known for some time where all of our graduating residents are headed next, and that some will remain in Iowa as hospitalists or fellows, next week’s event is the last time we will all gather together while you remain residents. I recently met with a faculty member at another university who did his house-staff training at Iowa. I was impressed by how positively he remembered his experiences here and the transformative impact his Iowa training had on his career. Therefore, I look forward to wishing each of our graduating senior residents well next week, knowing that they will leave here well prepared for the next phase in their careers.
At last week’s Grand Rounds, the resident-selected Education Awards were announced. I would like to add my personal congratulations to the residents, fellows, and staff members on their well-deserved recognition by their peers. We were also regaled by our outgoing Chief Residents who delivered our annual Chiefs’ clinical presentation. The clinical vignettes reflected not only the diagnostic challenges that exemplify our medicine service, but also the astute clinical acumen of our Chief Residents. You can read our Chiefs’ collective farewell here. I also asked our graduating residents to reflect on their time in our program, and we have gathered a few responses here. It was heartening to note that many of our graduates say that their colleagues and mentors are what they would miss the most and that the relationships they formed are what they have valued the most. As I said a couple weeks ago, what distinguishes this Department—and clearly our residency program—are the people who comprise it. I am deeply impressed with this year’s graduating class, with your hard work and your thoughtfulness. You embody all that is best about our Department.
From time to time, I highlight clinical activities of our faculty that exemplify the compassion and tireless commitment to caring for some of our most clinically challenging patients. This week I want to highlight two relatively recent additions to our faculty, cardiologists Dr. Alex Briasoulis and Dr. Paul Alvarez. They are members of the heart failure program, serving countless Iowans who present with advanced heart failure. When we approached them for their perspectives on their clinical practice, they were quick to point out that they are members of a large team comprising surgeons, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, and support staff. “The power of a team can improve outcomes,” Dr. Briasoulis said. The Department and the larger institution recognize the contributions of specialized health care teams within our cardiovascular service line. Their efforts contribute to our recognition as being high-performing in heart failure, and I am confident that as the Heart and Vascular Center continues to grow the ranks of its heart failure cardiologists, our outcomes and reputation will continue to improve.
Just as these posts attempt to highlight the great diversity of clinical and educational excellence in our department, I would also like to draw your attention to the many publications from our faculty that appear each week, which can be seen on the research portal of the Department’s website. One article that caught my attention was a multidisciplinary study published in PLoS One last month. Senior author Dr. Phil Polgreen has been focused on leveraging commonly available technologies to tangibly influence health of individual patients and to improve ways in which we deliver health care to larger populations. However, it remains essential to rigorously evaluate what works and what doesn’t. The paper described a randomized controlled trial to determine the relative value of text-based reminders and goal-setting to increase activity levels (measured by Fitbit pedometers) in patients with prediabetes or diabetes. Although the study validated their data collection methodology and revealed that study participants increased their personal engagement, the study underscored that new, more-effective approaches will ultimately be required to ensure consistent adherence to exercise prescriptions in patients with diabetes. Rigorous analyses such as this, of novel clinical approaches, remain an important cornerstone of ensuring that we all practice evidence-based medicine.