Human rights and diversity in health care

mlk2019Although University of Iowa Health Care’s Human Rights Week officially begins on Monday, Jan. 21, with the Martin Luther King Day of Service, yesterday’s Grand Rounds started this year’s institution-wide celebration. Drs. Laurie Lyckholm and Usha Perepu focused their presentation on Sickle Cell Disease, which afflicts a specific segment of our population. Their presentation shed important light on the broader issues of disparities in health care equity, from access to care to how that care is delivered. Attention to issues surrounding human rights should be a year-long activity, but I am grateful for the focus that next week will provide. In our department, we place a very high value on the benefits that embracing diversity brings to our work. There is incontrovertible evidence that diversity fosters creativity, greater understanding of problems we face, and ultimately better solutions. In this regard it was gratifying to see that UI Health Care was ranked second in the nation by Forbes as a health care organization for employment diversity in our category. We must embrace conversations around implicit/unconscious bias as we continue to create a workplace that supports all of our members, irrespective of their background. I encourage everyone to take advantage of tools like CultureVision that challenge us to see past our own potential biases and prejudices to deliver individualized, effective, and culturally responsive care. The full list of UI Health Care-related events for the week, including a noon keynote on Wednesday, Jan. 21, from Grinnell College President Raynard S. Kington, MD, are here. I hope you will attend and participate in as much of the week’s activities as your schedule allows. And to keep me informed of how our department can improve in accordance with these core values.

I want to give a shout out to two new grant recipients whose recently funded grants focus on issues surrounding health care disparities. Both Dr. Marin Schweizer and Dr. Aaron Seaman will begin multi-institutional reviews of health care delivery models. Dr. Schweizer received her second VA Merit Award in less than two years, as she continues to methodically increase patient safety while reducing unnecessary testing and treatment. Dr. Seaman will deepen his work with a seed grant from the American Cancer Society via the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center to examine care practices for survivors of head and neck cancer. In addition, another grant—a five-year, $1.75M R01—was recently awarded to Dr. Anil Chauhan, who continues to manage an extraordinarily productive laboratory team. Congratulations to all three of you and best wishes on the coming work.

Internal Medicine residency recruitment is over, and we now begin the challenging process of ranking a truly impressive list of candidates, who interviewed with us from all over the USA and leading international institutions. It has been truly remarkable watching the months-long coordination of twice-weekly, interview sessions. Mountains of applications get winnowed down to a still-daunting number of candidates to be interviewed. And through it all, our faculty, our residents, and our administrative staff schedule them, meet with them, and give them a welcome to Iowa that many have reported is unforgettable. Dr. Manish Suneja, our residency program director, offers his thanks to the many individuals who deserve recognition at the end of this busy time. He also passes on some direct quotes from interview candidates that Chief Resident Dr. Nicole Grogan gathered from post-visit evaluations. What stands out to me in these quotes is how easy it is to see what a dynamic, smart, and engaging team we have here. This can be easy to take for granted, but when we see ourselves through someone else’s eyes, we can feel proud of what we have built and maintain here. Thank you to everyone who shows how deeply we believe in education at Iowa.

We do not just train outstanding residents at Iowa. Our fellowship programs not only ensure that our trainees are exposed to cutting-edge clinical care in their respective subspecialties, but that they also have an opportunity to present their work on a national scale. I was pleased to see Dr. Rea Nagy’s abstract was selected for special recognition at the upcoming Endocrine Society meeting. And, first-year infectious disease fellow Dr. Takaaki Kobayashi served as first author on a fascinating case report guided by two faculty members who know how to spot and address that one unusual or unexpected detail! Go Hawkeyes!

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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