This has been a challenging week for us. As we processed the news of the sudden and unexpected loss of one of our own, I have been heartened by and reminded of the supportive community we are privileged to be a part of. As we mourn the loss of Dr. Dale Bieber, social media comments and conversations via email or in the halls have all reinforced just what a generous and expansive figure he was. Colleagues, students, and even patients have reached out to let us know just how much he meant to them and how much he will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers continue to bend toward his wife and family in this difficult hour. To the many people who have asked, we will share information on memorial tributes and how you might participate as details become available.
Some of the most touching comments about Dr. Bieber have come from our residents, both current and former. Each story confirmed the kindness and warmth that infused his feedback and guidance. The opportunity that education affords each of us to help shape the future of medicine is core to our identity as a department and one that we treasure. Personally, some of my most valued relationships are the ones that I get to develop with our Chief Residents. Over the course of a too-quick academic year, I get to witness their own unique style on weekly Chair’s Rounds. And over the years what I find is that as long as the basics are in place—good physical exam skills, how to take a comprehensive history, a listening ear to what the patient is telling you—the most important qualities a strong clinician should possess are trust in their training and experience and empathy toward their patients. Each year, the Chiefs show me in new ways how physicians can blend wisdom and grace into their practice. Yesterday morning, in advance of their combined Grand Rounds, I rounded with one of the Chiefs who was also the attending on one of our general medicine services. I enjoyed the collaborative way in which he conveyed knowledge to the learners at the bedside of a complex patient, who had much to teach all of us.
I want to thank each of our Chief Residents for their service this year and for how, even under extraordinary circumstances, they maintained the highest standard of care not only for their patients but for our residency too. These four truly “left it better than they found it.”
In addition to impressive showcases of our Chiefs’ presentation skills, yesterday we also delivered—mostly virtually—our annual Internal Medicine medical student awards to some of our most distinguished graduating medical students. Our three M4 Student Awards are presented annually to fourth-year Carver College of Medicine students who exemplify the very best qualities of the faculty whose names these awards bear. Every year, I am always impressed by the roster of previous winners of these awards, some of whom have become distinguished Iowa faculty members and others leaders elsewhere. Even if we cannot get them all to stay at Iowa for their residency, we are proud that so many of our graduates choose internal medicine for their specialty each year. Our commitment to mentoring is always rewarded when we see how our students regularly surpass any challenges we present them with, often by identifying opportunities to contribute at the bedside and at the bench. One such student, M2 Greta Becker, has just earned a grant to spend the next year working in Dr. Robert Blount’s lab while he examines the connection between air pollution and tuberculosis. Well done to both of them on this new opportunity to learn and to train.
Our residency remains the backbone of our department and even though it feels like we just celebrated Match Day, it is already time for us to begin active planning for the next recruitment season. An essential component of our outreach are our residents themselves. A special thanks to those residents who have contributed to our “A Day in the Life” series, which in addition to a lot of our video content, provides the best insight that a prospective recruit can obtain, as they seek to learn what they can expect from our program. About a dozen have been offered over the last couple years, and a surprising and coincidental number of them have gone on to become Chief Residents. Our thanks to the latest contributors, Drs. Yana Zemkova, Robert Windisch, Jr, and Katelin Durham, who all share their insights about working at UI Health Care.