Alexis Wickersham, MD, FACP. Clinical Assistant Professor and Assistant Program Director, Internal Medicine
Director of Wellness Initiatives, Department of Medicine
Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA
What were some of the projects you worked on while you were at Iowa and how did this work prepare you for your career?
At Iowa, I worked on quality improvement projects focusing on healthcare communication and technology integration, specifically the Voalte phones at UIHC and the Vocera device at the VAMC. (I’m curious to know if these still exist or if they have been replaced by new technologies!) My work at Iowa as a Chief Resident in Quality and Patient Safety, spring-boarded my career in quality and safety at Jefferson. I am going into my third year as an Assistant Program Director of the Internal Medicine residency program, focusing largely on development and implementation of our quality and safety curriculum and resident wellness. I helped grow our department’s [Morbidity & Mortality] conference to mirror that of Iowa’s audience-driven, systems-based [Morbidity, Mortality & Improvement] conference. Keeping communication and medical education near to my heart, I have been active in remodeling our bedside interdisciplinary rounding to better integrate bedside teaching.
What is a “fun fact” (however you want to interpret this) about you that folks here might not know?
Over the past year and prior to Covid, I graduated from Improv Level 2. My improv comedy career is on hold for a while, but I still regularly integrate “yes, and” statements into my everyday vocabulary.
What was most valuable to you during your years at the University of Iowa?
Being surrounded by truly nice people who genuinely cared about my development. I enjoyed coming to work every day! Having mentors at Iowa during residency and my chief year has been critical to my success.
What is one memory that stands out from your time at Iowa?
I loved every time we could enjoy what we termed “Fancy Lunch” using call money to engorge on the best salad bar in Iowa City while soaking in the sun on the rooftop of Carver Pavilion! I also loved roaming around at night on call and looking at all the artwork at UIHC, especially the large blue crystal bowl on the first floor. If you know which one I’m talking about, you have great taste!
What is something you learned at Iowa that you still use in your current role?
That skim milk and Coca-Cola are high in phosphate! Most of the ‘clinical pearls’ I use on rounds, I learned at Iowa. Iowa made me into the hospitalist and medical educator I am today!
How do you maintain a life-work balance in your current role?
For starters, I married a psychologist, which has proven to be instrumental to my emotional wellbeing! 😊
As someone who focuses on clinician wellness, I like the term life-work integration, recognizing life and work are both an ebb and flow. Shifting expectations of myself and others during Covid has helped me focus on the things that are in my control. After gyms closed down in Philadelphia, I purchased a spin bike and set up a meditation space in my house. I have become a huge proponent of incorporating mindfulness into my days and being compassionate with myself during stressful and uncertain times. When I’m not working, I love spending time outdoors walking and gardening. And I dream of getting back on the improv stage one day!