Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Fellows Graduation, 2020

If there is any group that can “roll with it” and come through smiling, laughing, and having grown closer as a team, it is the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Occupational Medicine. The celebration of their graduating fellows recently showed that affection and adaptability. 

Like all other graduation events this season, only a handful of people were in one location to honor the achievements of the Pulmonary and Critical Care fellows and their division. The rest of the guests logged in to Zoom and watched from their homes or offices. Three of the four fellows brought along a significant other.

Many traditions from years past held despite the dramatic changes. Program Director Jeffrey Wilson, MD, ran through a list of some of the year’s outstanding achievements throughout the division. He presented the Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award chosen by the fellows to Herbert Berger, MD. Graduating fellow Iliya Amaza, MBBS, received the MyPillow Award from Berger in recognition of his efforts in completing his sleep study training requirements. Wilson also presented the “Know Your Fellow” trivia questions revealing facts he had solicited from fellows’ loved ones ahead of time.

One new element that may be worth adding in to the annual list of traditions was the video testimonials from those fellows’ family and friends. Short clips of parents and others offering their congratulations arrived from all over in lieu of their presence. Wilson then recounted clinical and scholarly successes achieved by the fellows in their time at Iowa. He also shared quotes from mentors who guided them in some places and in others just sat back and watched them excel all on their own.

Thomas Gross, MD, was then handed Zoom hosting privileges–eventually after some inevitable technical difficulties–and he pressed play on a video he had created. Trading Elton John from last year in for Lil Nas X, Gross proved that there was no genre he could not work in. In honor of our “new normal,” a typical Zoom conference call was transformed into a digital rendeition of “Old Town Road” parodied into “Old Man’s Throat.” 

Then came the fellows’ turn to speak and offer their own video tribute. Though shields and masks covered half their faces, their gratitude and affection were unmistakable. Spending three years in intense training, each of them made clear, builds bonds that will persist well past this current moment.

Congratulations to these four outstanding fellows and best wishes as they embark on the next phase of their careers!

Iliya Amaza, MBBS
Elizabeth Batchelor, MD
Oscar Llanos Ulloa, MD
Scott Schecter, MD

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