December 2014 Newsletter

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Department of Medicine eNewsletter
December 2014
:: Interview
:: Department News
:: Department Events
:: Leadership Council Minutes
Leadership Council
December 2014
Richard Walsh

B. Arafah

K. Armitage

A. Askari

R. Chandra

F. Cominelli

F. Creighton

S. Gravenstein

D. Hricik

N. Meropol

R. Schilz

D. Simon

R. Walsh

B. Watts

J. Wright


Recorded by:
A. Staruch
Stay connected
and up-to-date
with department
conferences and events
by signing up for the following tools:

Department of Medicine YouTubeDepartment of Medicine LinkedinDepartment of Medicine Facebook
Welcome to the Department of Medicine Agre Society
department interview
Patricia Thomas, MD, Vice Dean for Medical Education at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, shares the influence of the health care reform on medical education, discusses the evolving roles of faculty members in teaching students and highlights key initiatives the School of Medicine is focusing on in order to train the medical leaders of tomorrow.

What attracted you to the position of Vice Dean for Medical Education with the School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University? What are some of the initiatives you are concentrating on currently?


After spending 25 years at the Johns Hopkins University and working as an Associate Dean for Curriculum for 10 years, I was attracted to a larger leadership role at Case Western Reserve University. I had had the privilege of codeveloping the four-year curriculum at Johns Hopkins University and participating in design of a new medical education building for medical students, so these projects were already completed. Case Western Reserve University, on the other hand, was at an extremely interesting point of its history as an institution. Case Western Reserve University had a nationally known MD curriculum that was introduced in 2006. However, there were new topics that needed to be incorporated in the already highly regarded curriculum. In addition, the idea of a new health education campus was extremely exciting for me. We will be the only one in our peer group of highly ranked medical schools in this country that has an interprofessional campus; many of our peers, such as Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, and Johns Hopkins University, have built new buildings dedicated to medical students alone. Interprofessional collaborative care is where health care is going; Case Western Reserve University students are going to learn to effectively practice in teams and build constructive interdisciplinary dialogue in a beautiful new interprofessional building.


Should America's focus on healthcare reform also include a reform on medical education?


We have realized that even though we are well-regarded for the quality of medical education, we have missed the boat in many respects on the health care of our population, specifically issues of quality, access and cost. Our MD curriculum includes two years of basic science and two years of clinical courses. We need to be able to educate our students on the topics of quality, access and cost, and teach them to appreciate system thinking. My goal is to have quality improvement practices and implementation science regarded as highly as other sciences in the MD curriculum. Upon arrival in a health care system, students should immediately be able to think of ways they can make the system better.


In order to address this issue, one of the first things I have done is create a position of an Assistant Dean for Health System Science. The position has been developed to specifically address the issues of teaching quality improvement across the four-year curriculum. We are focusing on establishing a developmental thread that gets more sophisticated and mature as students engage further in this topic.


The issue of access has a lot to do with health care disparities as well as cultural humility. A large-scale project entitled "Choosing Wisely" by the American Board of Internal Medicine is addressing the issue of cost. So the leadership of professional societies is actively addressing these hot topics, and the charge to us is to bring them down to the medical student level effectively.


One of the criticism points regarding medical school education is the more prestigious the medical school is, the more likely instruction focuses on academic and research-related material, not on need-to-know clinical practice. Where do you believe lies the balance between teaching cut-and-dried academic science like physics and chemistry, and developing critical diagnosis and treatment skills?


The new Western Reserve 2 Curriculum (WR2) is primarily case-based and offers IQ (inquiry-based) learning groups, where students get together for two hours three times a week to discuss a clinical case. After studying the case, students develop learning objectives, identify information they need to know to address the case, as well as develop clinical hypotheses. The students then return two days later to discuss what they have learned and teach each other. I believe the IQ method encourages students to be metacognitive in their thinking, stimulates group dynamics and appreciation of individual's perspectives. By bringing their personal life experiences, humanism and knowledge to a clinical case, students move beyond biomedical science. So our curriculum at the School of Medicine has encouraged interdisciplinary integrative thinking that future physicians will need to master.


A faculty member can play many roles for a student from being a mentor and leader, to a teacher and role model. How do you see the role of faculty evolving right now?


Our faculty members are content experts and students truly value their expertise when they work with them. However, faculty may not realize how much of an impact they have on our students in other ways they are developing, specifically their professional identity formation. Professional identity is becoming a hot topic as physicians are challenged in today's environment with demands on time, attention to money, as well as dealing with imperfect systems. Learning how to be resilient in these situations and empowering people to move forward should be one of the goals of our education system. A professional identity is formed when a mature professional who understands a situation can help a student work through the learning moment. Every time a faculty member is teaching, students are taking in what it means to be a physician, colleague, mentor or educator.


How do you support faculty in developing these skills?


The Office of Faculty Affairs is very engaged in the idea of faculty being reflective of their own professional identity and ways it carries over into their teaching. There are multiple opportunities through faculty development programs here at Case Western Reserve University to enhance teaching skills and development as a medical educator and leader.


How does the current generation of medical students differ from previous generations we have trained? What are some of the key qualities you observe in them?


Our current students do not perceive diversity as an issue; they are very comfortable with the diversity of thought and diversity of opinions. They often have incredible life experiences including travel, international studies, so they are more open-minded.


In addition, students are more empowered to challenge education and take more command in self-directed learning nowadays. This is partly due to the ease of access of information as faculty members are no longer the sole gatekeepers. In recognition of this, we have offered less formal curriculum hours and much more time for self-directed learning. The main focus for us is to provide students with the optimal learning environment where their positive qualities would be nourished.


What would you like to see receive more emphasis in the realm of medical education on a national level?


There was a qualitative study of American medical education with results published in the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching report. There were a few focus items that were identified, including professional identity formation and self-directed learning we discussed earlier.


We should prepare our students to be lifelong learners. The School of Arts and Sciences as well as the School of Engineering offer tremendous resources to early learners who want to go beyond their MD curriculum. We are currently developing a series of pathways where students can receive additional credits and degrees, capitalizing on the resources of Case Western Reserve University as a whole. The enrichment pathways we are planning are Wellness and Prevention, Urban Health, World Health, Health Care Innovation and Medical Humanities. For example, Wellness and Prevention pathway will offer nutrition, exercise and mindfulness training to students so that they can counsel patients in the future. But we also want our students to act as agents who bring their knowledge to a larger community and can teach their peers on the importance of wellness and nutrition.


What are some of the goals you will be focusing on over the next few years?


Certainly the development of the new campus and actually seeing it go up will be a major landmark for us. We are also closely tracking School of Medicine outcomes, including diversity and social mission. I would also like to see our pathways developed further with identifying faculty leaders and establishing a pilot going forward. In addition, I would like to see our interprofessional curriculum advance with more active events offered throughout the year. Finally, we are also working on revising our clinical curriculum, so we have a lot of things to look forward to in the next two years.

The department news report

Division of Cardiovascular Medicine

Daniel Simon, MD, served as a Co-PI of the Dual Anti-Platelet Therapy trial that was presented as a late-breaking trial at the national scientific sessions of the American Heart Association. The article entitled "Twelve or 30 Months of Dual Antiplatelet Therapy after Drug-Eluting Stents" was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.





Schedule a clinical appointment with Cardiovascular Medicine physicians





Division of Geriatrics & Palliative Care

Gowrishankar Gnanasekaran, MD,
received a $20,000 GME Innovation 2015 award. The award was given for

Dr. Gnanasekaran's project entitled "CRIT - Train the Trainer" program.












Division of Hematology & Oncology

Jennifer Eads, MD,
was appointed as a Junior Investigator member of the National Cancer Institute Neuroendocrine Tumor Task Force for a three-year term. The committee is responsible for developing a national agenda for clinical trials in neuroendocrine tumors.




Clark Distelhorst, MD, became a 2015 recipient of Harrington Scholar-Innovator award for his work entitled "Targeting a New Pathway to Treat Blood Cancers." The $50,000 award will specifically help fund the research of Bcl-2-IP3 receptor interaction in the treatment of malignancy.


Shaveta Vinayak, MD, became the inaugural Becky Hennessy Endowed Master Clinician in Breast Cancer Genomics. The endowment recognized Dr. Vinayak's excellence in patient care and accomplishments, dedication and clinical research focus on genomic approaches to breast cancer treatment.






Division of Infectious Diseases & HIV Medicine

Robert Bonomo, MD, was selected as a 2015 Harrington Scholar-Innovator recipient. Dr. Bonomo will be further developing novel bacterial agents to treat drug-resistant infections.


Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine

Kingman Strohl, MD, was recognized for his leadership in sleep research and community service to the Cleveland Food Bank by the Cleveland City Council. Councilman Anthony Brancatelli presented Dr. Strohl with a Resolution of Recognition for his dedication and leadership.




department conferences & events

Grand Rounds

When: Tuesdays, 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

Where: Kulas Auditorium, Lakeside, 5th Floor


January 6

"Novel Treatments for Prostate Cancer" by Matthew Cooney, MD


January 13

"Prevention and Treatment of Hepatitis B Reactivation during Immunosuppressive Drug Therapy" by Yngve Falck-Ytter, MD


January 20



January 27

"TBD" by Soon Park, MD

department leadership council minutes

Leadership Council

Dr. Walsh thanked the council members who participated in the Harrington Pathway interview day, which received positive feedback from the applicants. A second interview date is scheduled for Saturday, January 17, 2015.


Leadership Council

Dr. Armitage reviewed data regarding residency and subspecialty matches. He also reminded Division Chiefs that milestone reports for fellowships are due by January 9, 2015.


Leadership Council

Dr. Walsh distributed information on The UH Physician Profile, a new initiative to provide physicians up-to-date patient quality outcome metrics. He also reviewed the Ambulatory Practice Enhancement Initiative and updated the Council on UH Health Information Management.