One week from today, a newly minted cohort of medical students will walk across the stage in Hancher Auditorium and receive a diploma that represents the culmination of years of hard work and sacrifice, not only their own but those made by family members, partners and even children! Achieving a Doctor of Medicine degree does not occur in a vacuum. It reflects effort and resilience on the part of students, support from loved ones, and the contribution of many faculty who are committed to investing in the future of our profession. The Department of Internal Medicine has a significant footprint in medical education at the Carver College of Medicine. Indeed, an over-representation of our faculty will be recognized for College of Medicine 2019 teaching awards, voted on by the medical students to acknowledge outstanding teachers. The full list of awardees are here. Kudos to finalists Drs. Jon Houtman, Jason Barker, and Manish Suneja, and special congratulations to Dr. Amal Shibli-Rahhal, the recipient of the M2 teacher of the year award. Hats off to Drs. Katherine Harris, Bharat Kumar, and Steven Craig who were finalists for the Faculty of the Year award. It takes a village to make a physician and we celebrate our graduating medical students and the faculty who help them to achieve this important milestone.
I want to give special recognition to some of our faculty educators who direct the core internal medicine clerkships, a seminal rotation in the shaping of all clinicians. Dr. Lisa Antes and Dr. Lee Sanders direct the Inpatient Clerkship, where students become members of the general medicine inpatient ward team and participate in the care, evaluation, and daily management of the amazing patients on our inpatient services. For many students, this is their first real taste of internal medicine. Dr. Milena Gebska, directs the Sub-Internship in Internal Medicine program, which allows fourth-year medical students the opportunity to dive more deeply into our specialty before a residency. Dr. Katie White provides a similar experience directing the Outpatient Clerkship, while Dr. Joe Szot manages the medical students’ choices in advanced electives. This dedicated team works hard to maintain a program that remains innovative, but responsive to student needs, enhancing the student experience, while still ensuring that education goals are being met in accord with established best practices. It is in part because of educators like them that so many of next week’s graduates have chosen to pursue careers in internal medicine and primary care. We are pleased that many have chosen to remain at the University of Iowa, we are happy to have recruited you, and for those who will be training in other institutions across the country we convey heartfelt wishes for every success.
Graduation represents the beginning of a long journey that for many will culminate in a faculty career. One of the privileges of serving in my current role is to observe the commitment of our faculty and to be dazzled by incredible careers that have enriched our department. Each year there are faculty members who retire from active service, and I wish to recognize them in this forum and share comments in the words of their division chiefs. Of the ten faculty members who have retired in the last year, their combined years of service to this institution approaches 265 years. Let me repeat that number: 265 years. It is challenging to wrap one’s head around more than two and a half centuries of cumulative service, clinical care, teaching, and research. Their impact on mentoring multiple generations of trainees cannot be overstated. We are grateful that so many of our new professors emeriti will continue to make themselves available to us as we download as much of their institutional memory as possible. We are grateful for the department that they have built, and we will be worthy of the care they entrust to us.
Finally, I want to extend another welcome to Dr. Ayotunde Dokun, joining us in a couple months as the next Director of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism. Dr. Dokun is committed to all of our missions and I am sure that he will contribute not only to the future of our department, but will be an effective mentor for the next generation of Iowa graduates. Dr. Dokun has distinguished himself as an educator, clinician, and investigator. In fact, his work in vascular disease as it intersects with complications from diabetes is a natural fit here and I look forward to the new collaborations and insights that his arrival will foster. Dr. Dokun will find lively and collegial faculty in his new division, quick with wit, wisdom, and input, as well as a willingness to attempt new initiatives. It has been one of my great pleasures to work closely with the faculty in the division he will now have the honor to lead. I know that he will agree, just as they will find Dr. Dokun as affable and deft at forming the kinds of connections necessary for achieving great things. Welcome, Dr. Dokun!