It seems like we barely get a new class of fellows situated here and it is time to begin the process of identifying the members of next year’s class. Toward the end of this month, we will enter Interview Season. Graduating residents from all over the country will visit Iowa City to meet with faculty and fellows in their subspecialty program of choice and hold their experience here alongside other top programs in the country. It will be essential for these prospective trainees to have as clear a picture of who we are when they visit since many will be our future colleagues. I appreciate the time and effort that all our faculty make to meet with fellowship candidates, and in our subspecialty divisions this commitment of time and effort can be substantial. However, there are another group of valued trainees who will be visiting us in the fall, namely applicants for our residency program. It is also important for faculty to avail themselves to meet with residency candidates who might have an interest in pursuing your subspecialty. In discussing this with Residency Program Director Dr. Manish Suneja, the commitment is not huge, but has a large impact as we seek to continue to recruit the most talented classes of trainees to our program. More information will be forthcoming, but let me invite you to offer up an hour or two in the coming months for this important work.
As we enter the recruitment season, and as we focus on attracting the best and brightest here, we should be mindful of best practices in the interview process. I will ask our education team to circulate these guidelines, as we prepare for this important work. Brian Gehlbach, MD, our Associate Program Director overseeing all of the Internal Medicine Fellowship Programs and other members of the Education Leadership team commissioned a survey of current fellows and applicants two years ago. Among the questions asked were: What aspects of our programs are important to highlight? What did our fellows want to know about or hear in their interviews? Dr. Gehlbach reports that the survey found a great deal of interest in how we support a work-life balance, of course, helping them envision how they can thrive personally in a welcoming and supportive environment. But they also want to know how we can support their individual training goals, tailoring specific elements to their interests and long-term plans. Each fellowship program has some flexibility within the expected requirements to do this. Therefore, we should make clear that trainees will leave well-grounded in all the fundamentals essential to their subspecialty, while also being exposed to areas of interest, research opportunities, and other skills that will prepare them to be strong subspecialty physicians. I am confident that our program directors and our current fellows are a terrific resource for more information about the rigor and flexibility that characterize our training programs and our commitment to professional development of our trainees. As you prepare for showcasing our programs let me thank you in advance for helping us convey what places us among the best in the nation.
Something else that places us among the best is our ability to consistently obtain extramural funding to fuel our research. We will have a few more to announce in the coming weeks, but the latest round of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Merit Awards were just announced. Five of our faculty members successfully received these major grants from the VA, which are largely equivalent to an NIH RO1. The scope of work these awards will support spans a broad spectrum, but I am pleased to note that three of these investigators are also members of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center. Congratulations are due to these five investigators, but also to the dozens of individuals who reviewed and advised them on their applications and of course to the support staff in our Research Administration office helping to coordinate the submission of these grant applications. Your incredible success confirms the extraordinary level of teamwork and coordination necessary to successfully compete for these national research awards.
Finally, in conjunction with many of the multiple CME events I pointed out in my last post, I would encourage everyone—student, trainee, and faculty alike—to consider participating in one or the many poster sessions that we will host this fall. Interaction with colleagues and communication of new ideas is a critical component of our science and central to the collaborative environment that we have built here in Iowa. The first will be hosted by the Iowa Chapter of the Society for Hospital Medicine, during our annual Progress conference. That session will occur on Thursday, September 26, around noon, and the deadline for submission is Monday, September 16. Here are the guidelines for submission for the SHM session and the submission link. Second, Internal Medicine’s 53rd Annual Research Day will host up to 75 posters on October 15. Abstracts can be submitted here by September 30. And, last, the Quality & Safety Symposium extends invitations for works in progress to multiple colleges throughout the university. That session will take place the evening of November 20 and abstracts can be submitted here. Four abstracts will be pre-selected and invited to be delivered in a special “poster pearls” session on the second day of the symposium. I look forward to seeing many of you at these events.