Just a month ago we were saying good-bye to medical students who were graduating and moving on to residencies at other institutions besides the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. We are grateful that so many of that class have chosen to stay with us. Their numbers are a testament to the rigor and collegiality we offer at Iowa. The same conclusions hold true for the residents we will celebrate on Tuesday, June 11. More than a dozen of this year’s residency program graduates entered the fellowship match, 100% of them matched, and 8 of them will enter subspecialty training programs in our department. So although we will not be saying good-bye to all of our residency graduates, enough of them will be leaving us at the end of this month that the evening will still have a bittersweet feel. This is the first class of residents to graduate who joined our program after I became Chair of the department. It has been a pleasure to watch and help them grow, to get to know each of them over these last three years, and it is my honor to wish this class of graduates every success in their careers to come.
In addition to celebrating the graduates and the resident-selected Teacher of the Year next week, we will also celebrate four physicians who represent the very best of us. Our Chief Residents have offered a collective farewell as well as satisfying the annual tradition of delivering a Grand Rounds. The trip they took for coffee afterward was a new tradition. Drs. Manish Suneja and Brian Gehlbach got to accompany them on that journey, but it has been my privilege to accompany them on Chair’s Rounds every Thursday morning. This has been a unique chance for me to observe their clinical acumen and their teaching skills. The weekly rounding constantly reminds me of the extraordinary diversity of clinical cases managed by our Medicine service. Chair’s Rounds provide me the opportunity to show that very basic tasks lay the foundation for positive outcomes: We must listen to what our patients say, and we must be astute in the detection of physical findings, whether subtle or not so subtle. Participating with our trainees and their patients in this way reminds me that the most important skill we must teach at Iowa is rigorous clinical decision-making. The relatively easy access to sophisticated diagnostic testing and imaging, and of course the ubiquitous EMR, although contributing to efficiency and throughput, can also dull our clinical skills at the bedside. Our outgoing and incoming chief residents are committed to fostering a culture of clinical excellence as we aspire for all of our trainees to become master clinicians. The department is committed to growing and strengthening our complement of master clinician attending staff and our Chiefs will continue to pave the way.
Similarly strong training opportunities also occur in our laboratories with learners at all levels. It takes a village to conduct cutting-edge research while training the next generation of researchers. Although much of their day-to-day instruction falls to our graduate and postdoctoral researchers and lab managers, the research education of undergraduates in our labs happens quietly, but effectively, behind the scenes. The scope of our department’s work with undergraduates is impressive. More than a hundred undergraduates work in Internal Medicine labs each semester. Not only are some of them learning complex processes and using high-tech equipment under supervision, but many of them are doing this work for the first time. We talk a lot about the pipeline and often think about it starting in medical school or even in residency, but really, we should see the potential that exists for replenishing our ranks by investing early and shaping the careers of talented and enthusiastic first- and second-year undergraduates. It is encouraging to see the number of different resources that exist at the University of Iowa and in our own labs to help them succeed.
Finally, I would like to offer an overdue public welcome to Suresh Gunasekaran, the new CEO of University of Iowa Health Care. He is scheduled to address an all-faculty meeting on Monday, July 22, at 5 p.m. in Medical Alumni Auditorium (E331 GH), and I invite everyone to make an effort to attend. Over the last month he has been conducting town halls, now concluded, to mark his six months in Iowa City. If you missed attending one, he has been offering his vision of what is to come as much as he has offered a willing ear to our questions and concerns. He has also been able to offer the perspective of a relative newcomer, noting those things that appear commonplace to us but everyone else would find extraordinary. Our work ethic, he says, sets us apart. Our ability to provide world-class health care with a relatively rural population as our base makes what we do more remarkable than what occurs in an urban academic medical center. But because we see this every day, Mr. Gunasekaran points out, we take it for granted. I hope that you will be reminded just how unique and valued your effort is.