Gastroenterology Fellowship Graduation, 2020

The need to maintain social distancing balanced against the need to celebrate graduates has inspired creativity from each of our fellowship programs. The members of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology were inspired when they ditched the views above Kinnick Stadium in favor of their computers and cameras.

Only the graduates themselves, Program Director Adrian Holm, DO, Associate Program Director Arvind Murali, MD, and Division Director David Elliott, MD, PhD were present in Medical Alumni Auditorium. Some other staff and colleagues gathered in a conference room at the other end of the University of Iowa Health Care campus, but the rest logged on to the conferencing link, celebrating from a variety of locations around the world.

After everyone present ate their individually prepared meals from a local restaurant and some initial introductions, a pre-recorded series of congratulatory videos from faculty members was played for the audience. It showcased some piano-playing talents as well as the obvious affection and pride faculty felt for the evening’s honorees.

Following the video, Elliott presented the Summers Teaching Award, named in honor of Robert Summers, one of the division’s most revered instructors and physicians. The graduates themselves choose the recipient, and this year’s Summers Award went to Rami El Abiad, MD.

Because El Abiad would be watching from off-site, and in order to surprise him, the award was presented to him a couple weeks before the event. It was at that same gathering that Deb Beadle, RN, MSN, also presented the fellows with her own appreciative gift.

After the video and award acceptance, Holm spoke briefly about the world the fellows entered when they joined the program, reading quotes from their application letters, and the world they are entering now as graduates. He emphasized the lessons they have learned and the skills and talent they have demonstrated as preparation for whatever might come next.

Holm then introduced each of the fellows and spoke about their qualities and their plans following the program. He then presented them with some Hawkeye-themed face masks, which will certainly remind them of their last year as fellows at the University of Iowa.

The fellows were then invited to say a few words themselves. Each of them thanked their colleagues, mentors, and staff, who have helped along the way. They all expressed hopes to maintain contact, recognizing the importance of their time at Iowa.

Attendees over Zoom were invited to speak. Friends and family locally and from even the other side of the world offered their words of congratulations. A couple quick group photos after that with the recognition that, although the evening was coming to an end, the bonds formed at Iowa would remain.

Congratulations to this year’s graduates and best wishes on your future endeavors!

Barakat Abdurajab Altamimi, MBBS
Sumant Arora, MBBS
Munish Ashat, MBBS
Fadi Niyazi, MBBS

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