Primary Care on the front lines of our health system

There really is no other way to say it. Based in the Division of General Internal Medicine, our general internists, mostly working at the Iowa River Landing facility, log more hours in direct and indirect contact with patients than most within University of Iowa Health Care. Fewer than 20 providers follow more than 14,000 patients with greater than 100% slot utilization and truly impressive patient satisfaction scores. These data alone speak volumes. Day after day, these faculty physicians, advanced practice providers, nurses, and scores of support staff pay close attention to mountains of details, ensuring that subtle symptoms or findings are not missed and that unexpected drug interactions are not overlooked, a vital issue for our complex patients who are followed by many specialties. They know when to refer and when to comfort. The relationships they develop with the patients they care for are most certainly rewarding and at times frustrating, compounded by compliance and documentation requirements that surround these interactions. I know I have said this here before, but this department sees and deeply values your efforts. Your work does not make news headlines, but it should. This is why I asked Division Director Dr. Rich Hoffman to summarize the work providers in his division are doing. Although his summary is a high-level view that does not exhaustively catalog the extensive impact of the faculty, I hope his overview will give all who read it a sense of the division’s breadth, depth, and scope and its importance to the health of thousands and thousands of Iowans. We know that the demand for the services of our primary care faculty by members of our community is high and will only continue to grow. I am pleased that successful recruitments have and will continue to expand our ranks in primary care.

IDWGS_2-15-18On Monday of this week many on social media took time to celebrate the UNESCO-designated International Day of Women and Girls in Science with the hashtag #WomeninScience. There are remarkable stories of women who helped take us to the moon, changed the way we treat cancer, or discovered cures for intractable diseases. But these stories do not change the fact that women and minorities are still dramatically underrepresented in STEM fields and, closer to home, in leadership roles within our department. We are making some progress, but we need to keep a laser focus on being better as we build a department for the future. In this vein, the department will support the training of four nominated women and minority faculty each year to participate in leadership and professional development programs. Faculty members at all ranks, but with a particular focus on junior faculty, will receive protected time and tuition/registration support to acquire skills in everything from communication and influence to financial and strategic planning. As a department, we openly recognize the many societal and institutional barriers that have contributed over many decades to reduce diversity in our ranks. The department is committed to building a pipeline that is truly representative of the population we serve. We will put out a call for nominations soon and we hope that you help us realize that goal by nominating yourself or a colleague.

globe-1334084_1920I close with some comments about the global impact of our department. Just as we work to build and secure our future, the department believes that it is essential to look beyond our immediate surroundings in eastern Iowa. We have skills, knowledge, and experience that can benefit human health around the globe. This recent story about Drs. Alejandro Comellas, Emma Stapleton, and Eric Hoffman’s work in Tamil Nadu, India, is not an isolated effort. Recent arrival Dr. Robert Blount is doing similar work in Vietnam, examining the effects of air particulate on pediatric tuberculosis. Dr. Mo Milhem offered his expertise to hospital administrators in India on how best to structure their oncology care. And, of course, the college has an endowed Professor of Global Health currently held by Dr. Mary Wilson in recognition of her years of work around the world on leishmaniasis. She has also been working with a PhD student in Biostatistics who was recently featured as part of the Dare to Discover banner campaign out of the UI’s Office of the Vice President of Research. Just what one would expect from someone who won last year’s Distinguished Mentor Award. Thank you for your leadership.

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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