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Athens Advocate A Quarterly Publication

of the

GRU/UGA Medical Partnership


From Zero to 120 in Four Years

Georgia Regents University

and the




have partnered to create a four - year medical education program in


to help alleviate a statewide shortage of physicians that

threatens the health of


Page 2:

Cover Story: Zero to 120! Page 3:

Hospital Perspective Pages 4 & 5:

Zero to 120! continued... Page 6 :

New Faculty GRU Consolidation Page 7:

SGO Holiday Project Pages 8 & 9:

Learning Through Service Pages 10 - 13:

Student Outreach Pages 14 & 15:

Student Research Symposium

Student Spotlight Back page:

Students in Action

Stay informed. Join our Facebook Group! Find us on Facebook by searching: GHSU UGA Medical Partnership

The GRU/UGA Medical Partnership is located at the University of Georgia’s Health Sciences Campus 108 Spear Road, Athens, Georgia 30606

For more information, please visit 2

GRU/UGA Medical Partnership

Letter from the Dean From Zero to 120 in Four Years

O riginally housed in the former UGA Lamar Dodd School of Art building on Baldwin Street, I arrived in Athens in early November 2008 joining one other appointed faculty member and two individuals who had been active in the planning process. Although our work space was stark and we were lacking basic office supplies, we focused on the most pressing goal: preparing to welcome 40 students in August 2010. Our “to do” list was long and wide-ranging, including hiring faculty and staff, preparing a building undergoing renovation to house the program, developing an innovative curriculum, connecting with UGA faculty and the medical community, and providing tours and information for potential students and interested community supporters. When I have a quiet moment to reflect on the last 4 ½ years, I am both amazed and overjoyed by what the faculty, staff, and the Athens community have been able to achieve. In early 2007, the Georgia General Assembly approved funding to study expanding public medical education in the state. In January 2008, the consulting firm of Tripp Umbach presented its study and proposal to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia which stated that there was an urgent need to increase the number of physicians in the State of Georgia, and a decision was made to begin expansion of the Medical College of Georgia, Georgia’s only public medical school. The expansion would occur by developing regional clinical campuses (presently in Savannah, Albany, and Rome) and a four-year campus in Athens in partnership with the University of Georgia. The Medical Partnership campus would be the most time efficient and cost effective way to rapidly expand the size of the public medical school’s class from 190 to 230 students and would additionally facilitate the expansion of clinical and translational biomedical research at the University of Georgia by having a geographically convenient medical campus. A Memorandum of Understanding, which serves as the agreement between the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) (now MCG at Georgia Regents University) and the University of Georgia, was signed by the then presidents of both institutions and the Chancellor in February 2009. The Medical Partnership Campus is accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) as a branch campus of the Medical College of Georgia. However, the Partnership campus has been granted ‘separate track’ designation which allows the campus flexibility in curriculum organization and presentation as long as the ‘core competencies’ are the same as the Augusta campus. Continued on page 4.... Barbara L. Schuster, M.D. Campus Dean GRU/UGA Medical Partnership


Inside This Issue...

Editor: Alison Bracewell-McCullick, MPA, :: Director of Outreach & Communications Editorial Assistant: Andrea Horsman :: Adminstrative Assistant II Design and Layout: Jennifer Stowe, MS :: Medical Illustrator Photography: Andrew Tucker and Dot Paul (UGA Photographic Services)

Hospital Perspective

Genuine Patient Care Demonstrated in Elberton By Nancy Seymour & Brooke S. Hall

T he Elbert Memorial Hospital in Elberton, Georgia, and The Medical Center of Elberton, LLC began discussions in early 2009 in hopes of developing a partnership with the Medical College of Georgia and University of Georgia to offer clinical studies for third year medical students attending the new GRU/UGA Medical campus in Athens. Elberton, just 45 minutes from Athens, provided the ideal opportunity for a rural healthcare setting and local hospital for the third year medical students. After several meetings with the Hospital Chief Executive Officer and staff, the physicians at The Medical Center of Elberton embraced the idea and were excited about the arrival of medical students from the newly established medical campus so close to Elberton. Many of the physicians were alumni of the Medical College of Georgia and were pleased to be asked to provide clinical opportunities for students. Many questions arose from the offer, including “how would the students and community benefit?” and “what did we have to offer the students that Athens did not?” In a nutshell, Elberton provides a quality healthcare system with physicians and hospital staff that many patients know personally and interact with socially. This partnership is a wonderful experience because it allows students to understand healthcare from a rural standpoint rather than the hustle and bustle of urban life, and they learn firsthand how quality healthcare for patients is not sacrificed in a rural setting. Each student rotation is six weeks, and they have the opportunity to spend a week with each physician at The Medical Center. “Spending my six week family medicine rotation at the Medical Center of Elberton was a wonderful opportunity

Pictured above (l-r) J. Daniel McAvoy, M.D., Xiao Li, third-year Medical Partnership student, and Glenn S. Poon, M.D. to see primary care at its best,” said third year student Cristina Elstad. “Not only do they provide standard procedures and images in the office like EKG stress tests and chest x-rays, but the same doctors see their patients in the hospital as well. In addition to learning a tremendous amount of medicine, working with six very compassionate physicians taught me so much about genuine patient care.” When asked what the greatest benefit to the practice and community is, J. Daniel McAvoy, MD, managing physician at The Medical Center of Elberton, LLP and attending physician at Elbert Memorial Hospital, said “the opportunity to share the benefits of practicing and living in a small community with the hope that some of these young physicians will choose to practice in a rural area.” The Medical Center of Elberton and Elbert Memorial Hospital understand the concerns of a future shortage of physicians and the increasing demand for them in rural and underserved areas. The

opportunity to work in Elberton is one that will provide students with the experience they need when deciding where to practice in the future. Both the Medical Center of Elberton and Elbert Memorial Hospital are honored and feel privileged to be a part of the education and training initiatives for our future physicians.

Nancy Seymour is the Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Elbert Memorial Hospital and Executive Director of Elbert Memorial Hospital Foundation. Brooke S. Hall, M.B.A., is Practice Administrator for The Medical Center of Elberton, LLP.

The ATHENS ADVOCATE — Winter 2013 Issue


From Zero to 120 in By Barbara L. Schuster, MD Campus Dean

Continued from page 2... Given the ‘separate track’ flexibility, the Athens campus designed and now executes a predominately small group, case-based, interactive curriculum. This method of education requires active learning by students and faculty who must work collaboratively in integrated and cross disciplinary teams. While we started with only four team members in 2008, the Medical Partnership now includes 25 full-time faculty, 18 part-time paid faculty, more than 180 volunteer clinical faculty, a part-time medical illustrator, and 11 full-time administrative staff with additional administrative staff and faculty under recruitment. Twenty- four months after we started, 40 medical students began their studies in Athens, and we currently have 120 students attending classes on the UGA Health Sciences Campus. The Medical Partnership has become well integrated into northeast Georgia. Living alongside University of Georgia students has provided opportunities to become engaged on the main UGA campus. Medical Partnership students participate in UGA intramurals. The Partnership all-female soccer team won the 2011 All-Campus Intramural Soccer Championship. For the third year in a row, first and second year students participated in the annual Dawgtoberfest, a health fair for UGA faculty, staff, and students that is coordinated by the UGA College of Pharmacy students. Many Medical Partnership students act as mentors for pre-medical students in a variety of capacities, including work with AWIS (Association of Women in Science), speaking at pre-medical honors society meetings, and or-


GRU/UGA Medical Partnership

ganizing social events that bring together pre-med and current medical students to provide advice and encouragement in a casual environment. A group of community volunteers, coached by members of the UGA Theater Department, and UGA theater students role-play simulated patients allowing students to begin skill building in simulated physician-patient encounters. In addition to the ongoing partnership with the UGA Department of Theater, students in the Grady College of Journalism Health and Medical Journalism program have been documenting the Medical Partnership program and its students since the first day of classes in August 2010. The video documentaries and print stories can be found on “The Med School Project” website. Concern for the well-being of others in north Georgia has inspired the medical students to coordinate fundraisers to financially support organizations such as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Mercy Health Clinic, and the Children’s Specialty Services Clinic. Currently plans are underway for student-run fundraisers in the spring which will support the Loran Smith Cancer Center and the Boys and Girls Club. On Wednesday evenings, the medical students and faculty of the Partnership staff the Mercy Health Clinic located a few blocks away from the UGA Health Sciences Campus. Each December, the students “adopt” the kindergarten classes at Fowler Drive Elementary School, and every child receives a present to open, full of donated toys and goodies that are collected by the medical students. Multiple “Teddy Bear

Four Years Clinics” have taken place in elementary schools across AthensClarke County, which allows children to interact in a casual setting with future doctors. After “examining” a sick teddy bear, the medical stu-dents show the children how to properly wash their hands, how to cough and not spread germs, and why it is important to exercise. A formal relationship with the UGA College of Public Health has launched an official MD/ MPH program, and the first student participating in the program is immersed in her second semester of MPH classes. Last summer, she spent six weeks in Haifa, Israel studying Global Health Systems and is hoping to study in Kiev this summer working with the World Health Organization. Three MCG students, including one who began his medical studies in Athens, are completing a PhD in departments at UGA. While education was the first priority of the Medical Partnership, research is an expectation of a four-year medical campus and creating research synergies is an expectation of the Partnership. Several medical faculty have linked with colleagues in four of the UGA colleges, participating in a variety of research endeavors. In addition to the faculty, the medical students are becoming actively involved in summer research projects with UGA, MCG, and community faculty. Several community faculty in Northeast Georgia are significantly involved in outstanding clinical research projects. The student/community faculty collaborations are the beginning of a transformation that will bring thoughtful and


quality innovation to medical care in our community. Our first class of students, members of the Class of 2014, recently completed their first semester of the third year curriculum which includes rotations in seven core clinical specialties and a rotation in Palliative Care. These students work with physicians across north Georgia in locations including Gwinnett County, Winder, Gainesville, Elberton, Comer, and Athens. They are busy preparing for their fourth year and the decision of which medical or surgical specialty they will pursue. Their final year will provide several significant milestones for the Medical Partnership, including executing a full 4 year medical curriculum in Athens, the first time Athens students will ‘match’ for postgraduate (resident) positions, and the celebration of the first graduation of the Partnership students. For now we are catching our breath from the adventure of moving from zero to 120. Each step in the process has been challenging and exciting and we remain focused on the overall goal: educating Georgia’s next generation of doctors. The students who walk the corridors of Russell Hall and work with patients around northeast Georgia will soon be providing medical care for us and our community. Our work is far from complete but what was once an idea of two university presidents and a proposal from a consultant, is now a reality with a permanent home on the Health Sciences Campus and the recruitment of our fourth class of 40 students, the Class of 2017. The ATHENS ADVOCATE — Winter 2013 Issue


New Faculty Lynetta J. Jobe, DVM, MS, PhD Dr. Jobe graduated from North Carolina State University with Bachelor of Science degrees in Animal Science and Biology. In addition, she earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1992, a Master of Science degree in Pharmacology from North Carolina State University in 1996, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in the Biomedical Sciences from Auburn University in 2002. She also served as a resident in Anesthesiology and Pharmacology at Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Jobe has served as a National Institutes of Health, Postdoctoral Fellow in Cardiovascular Pathophysiology at Auburn University, and as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Carlyle Fraser Cardiothoracic Surgery Laboratory, in the Department of Surgery at Emory University, Crawford Long Hospital. Dr. Jobe’s research interests include pathophysiology and pharmacology of congestive heart failure and cardiac ischemia-reperfusion injury. Dr. Jobe joins the GRU/UGA Medical Partnership basic science faculty teaching pharmacology.

Sam Kini, MD, FACEP Dr. Kini comes to the Medical Partnership with over three decades of experience and expertise. He received his medical degree from Karnatak Medical College in Hubli, India, followed by an internship and residency in general surgery. He has been certified by the American Board of Surgery since 1982 and the American Board of Emergency Medicine since 1991. After 13 years of general surgery practice, Dr. Kini started his emergency medicine career in 1988. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American College of Emergency Physicians. Dr. Kini, former Emergency Medicine residency program director at MUSC, joins the Medical Partnership as full-time faculty with responsibilities that include site clerkship director for the 4th year Emergency Medicine Rotation and small group facilitator for first- and second-year medical students.

Kent Nilsson, MD Dr. Nilsson is a gradute of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2002 with degrees in both medicine and biochemistry. Following his residency in internal medicine in 2005, he completed three fellowships in cardiology and clinical cardiac electrophysiology at Duke University Medical Center by 2010. His clinical interests include inherited arrhythmias, implantable cardioverter difibrillators, cardiac resynchronization, atrial fibrillation, sudden cardiac death, clincial cardiac electrophysiology and pacemakers. Dr. Nilsson joins the Medical Partnership part-time teaching cardiology and continuing the development of clinical research.


GRU/UGA Medical Partnership

Regents approve consolidated Georgia Regents University By Christen Carter, January 8, 2013 GRU-MCG Communications Director

T he consolidation of Augusta State and Georgia Health Sciences universities is official following approval of a resolution by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents to form Georgia Regents University. “Today marks an important milestone for Georgia Regents University,” said GRU President Ricardo Azziz, who was appointed to lead the consolidated university. “I am thankful for the trust the regents have placed in us and the partnership, support and active engagement exhibited by our faculty, staff, students, alumni, volunteers and friends throughout this consolidation process.” Following approval of a recommendation to consolidate the two universities at its January 2012 meeting, the regents approved the new university’s mission statement in May and the name Georgia Regents University in August. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, a regional accrediting body for higher education institutions, affirmed the regents’ recommendation when it voted to approve the consolidation at its annual meeting in December. The accrediting body will make a site visit in the fall to ensure the new university is complying with accreditation principles and standards. Prior to the visit, university officials are expected to produce a selfstudy, or an assessment of the school and its operations. With the recent consolidation, the official name of the Athens campus is GRU/UGA Medical Partnership.

Student Government Organization Holiday Service Project For the second year in a row, the Medical Partnership SGO

adopted the entire kindergarten at Fowler Drive Elementary School in Athens. Throughout November, the Medical Partnership students collected toys, school supplies, hygiene items and other fun treats for children. The first and second year classes worked closely together to ensure that enough toys and supplies were collected for 75 children. In early December, Medical Partnership students worked in teams to wrap separate boy and girl presents, making sure the boxes were carefully labeled so each child would receive an appropriate present full of exciting gifts. Just before school ended for the holidays, the medical students hand-delivered the gifts to the Fowler Drive children and read holiday stories to three classes. They watched with delight as the children squealed and clapped with excitement over their gifts.

Above: First-year students Charlene Lo, Tina Duong, and Samat Kabani sort through goodies to include in each box. Below: Second-year Parker Smith loads up for the delivery to Fowler Drive Elementary.

Top: First and second-year students unload 75 gifts for the kindergarten class. Many hands make for light work thanks to all of the student volunteers! Above: The kids were excited to receive their gifts; while smiles and hugs were shared by all. The ATHENS ADVOCATE — Winter 2013 Issue


Learning Through Service By Dr. Laurel Boykin Murrow

G ood doctors recognize that their patients’ health is not merely defined by biology. Rather, they grasp the strong influences from family, neighborhood, community and the larger society. We want our students to have direct experience and appreciation of these social determinants of health which shape all doctor-patient encounters. By taking learning out of the classroom and into the community, students may benefit from the diverse perspectives and backgrounds of those they meet. “Service-learning” is one powerful way of conveying the multiple influences on health. Through this teaching and learning strategy, students integrate classroom instruction with meaningful community service and personal reflection. For the past three years, the Medical Partnership has developed relationships with a number of local agencies to deliver a community health curriculum to all first year students. Early in the year, students are introduced to core concepts through a series of interactive sessions. Then, teams of eight students work with a community supervisor and two faculty


GRU/UGA Medical Partnership

advisors on year-long projects. In the Fall, they investigate a community health problem of concern to partners and their clients. This involves a literature review, exploration of public health data, and interviews with patients, clients and other stakeholders. In the Spring, each team develops an approach to addressing the problem. This includes submitting a proposal and budget, actually implementing the strategy, and planning how to evaluate and improve the project in the future. The culmination of all this hard work is an academic poster session on campus and an oral presentation at the partner site. Throughout the year, students reflect on these activities through required but ungraded essays. Through these projects, students may build awareness of the resources that our community can offer patients. They may improve their skills in working as part of a team, in communicating with others, and in solving real world problems. We hope the experience also strengthens the idealism and civic responsibility that typically accompanies our students when they enter medical school. Beyond these

inherent benefits, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education accreditation standards specify that medical schools create sufficient opportunities for servicelearning. While the rewards may be great, this teaching method requires a substantial commitment of time and effort by both community partners and faculty. We have been fortunate to work with organizations that are quite devoted to teaching our students. Past and current partners include the Athens Community Council on Aging, Athens-Clarke County Unified Government Employee Health, Athens Nurses Clinic, Early Head Start/ Head Start, Nuçi’s Space, and the University Health Center. These dedicated groups not only commit to working with a team of students throughout the year, but they also invest time to help evaluate the curriculum and grade the projects. Because of their longstanding history of working in this community, our partners can introduce students to health issues that are already identified as top priorities. The types of issues addressed at each site include:

Community Health

• Athens Community Council on Aging – Polypharmacy, depression • Athens-Clarke County Unified Government Employee Health – Obesity • Athens Nurses Clinic – Smoking, depression, diabetes & hypertension • Early Head Start/ Head Start – Asthma, physical inactivity, well-child visits • Nuçi’s Space – Depression, access to care • University Health Center – Sleep deprivation, Iron deficiency anemia, human papilloma virus The approaches taken are as varied as the problems themselves. Some examples include a medication database that flags potentially problematic drugs and prints a list for sharing with the doctor, classes for smoking cessation, a video on depression

produced in collaboration with medical journalism students, a seminar on ways to incorporate physical activity into “circle time” with children, and a presentation on healthy sleep habits for undergraduate students. Planning for the 2013 projects is now underway. The public is invited to attend the Community Health poster presentations on April 22nd in George Hall at the UGA Health Sciences Campus. For further details, please contact Mrs. Ashley Townsend at

Laurel Boykin Murrow, MD, MSc is a Core Clinical Educator teaching Community Health Education as part of the Essentials of Clinical Medicine course at the GRU/UGA Medical Partnership.

The ATHENS ADVOCATE — Winter 2013 Issue


Student Outreach Kids Will Be Kids:

An Unforgettable Summer Experience By Ari Levine with contributions from Nick Fitzpatrick

10:30 PM Wednesday.

All was quiet in cabin Yellow Four. As I lay exhausted in my bunk, the possibility of sleeping in my bathing suit and sandals became a viable option. Another fun-filled day of fishing, swimming, teepee building, and other activities at Camp Courage was done, during which my co-counselors and I struggled to keep up with our 11 campers ranging in ages from 6-14. However, fate did not have me slated for a healthy 8 hours of sleep. I soon heard the pitter-patter of feet, accompanied by giggling and screaming. As I chased the kids around the cabin, I made a mental note to send a letter to the architect who brilliantly designed the cabin in a circular shape. One hour later while lying in bed for a second time, I wondered if I would survive with my sanity intact. Camp Courage is a week-long overnight camp for children and teenagers with craniofacial disorders and is held yearly in July at Fort Yargo State Park. A partnership between Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) and Camp Twin Lakes, Camp Courage accepts children with a variety of conditions such as cleft lip and/ or cleft palate, and syndromes such as Apert, DiGeorge, and Treacher Collins. Full-time staff are provided by Camp Twin Lakes to run the camp facilities and conduct daily activities, and CHOA coordinates volunteer counselors to accompany the campers throughout the week. Camp Courage provides an amazing week-long summer camp experience for many children that might otherwise never receive the opportunity. The camp dynamic allows campers to build friendships and relate to others with similar medical conditions. My involvement occurred rather spontaneously. Nick Fitzpatrick, one of my classmates, spent the summer working

10 GRU/UGA Medical Partnership

with CHOA. He was recruited to volunteer at Camp Courage and just a few weeks before camp, sent an email looking for another male volunteer. Having returned from Commissioned Officer Training with the Air Force and free for the remainder of the summer, I quickly responded. In retrospect I’m thankful I volunteered, as the experience proved immensely rewarding and one which both Nick and I will never forget. The title of this reflection, “Kids Will Be

Kids,” describes the most powerful lesson I learned. Our campers differed in age, background and level of disability, but at the end of the day they were all simply kids trying to have an awesome week at camp. For example, one of the more popular activities was rock climbing. While most campers scampered up the wall like monkeys, one was reluctant to attempt the climb. After some coaxing, he finally agreed to try. Though he only climbed 10 feet, he returned to the ground amidst cheers and was so elated that he smiled broadly for the remainder of the day. Another time, we took part in a camp-wide talent show. Once again a number of campers were reluctant to

participate, but after conquering their fear and performing on stage, their triumphant smiles said it all. In addition to the positives, there were a number of difficulties we encountered. Lacking any sort of formal training working with children, both Nick and I were unprepared for an entire week of camp counseling. The older campers were fairly self-sufficient (although they still caused their fair share of mischief), but some of the children required almost constant attention. Despite the struggle, Nick and I survived. In fact, I might say we excelled. We never lost any of our campers, and no one broke any bones. The only lasting damage to the camp was a section of grass covered in face paint and a stretch of sidewalk with the campers’ names written in bug spray. I later discovered that bug spray cannot be washed off of concrete with a hose, but that’s a subject for another article. In contrast to these cosmetic issues, Camp Courage left me with a powerful positive emotional impression. I will always remember that despite the scars on a child’s face, or any other handicap for that matter, they are all just kids and should not be treated differently than any other in this world. Ari Levine is a second-year medical student. He is from Marietta, GA and is a graduate of the University of Georgia. Nick Fitzpatrick is also a second-year medical student from Cleveland, GA and a graduate of North Georgia College & State University.

Summer Medical Institute Philadelphia: “Medical Care” Should Mean Just That By Eric Wang

R eflect on the phrase “compassionate care” and what it means to you. Does it bring up the same images in your mind as the phrase “medical care?” I am not a practicing physician, nor am I a resident. I am a second-year medical student, and at this stage of my career, more hours of my average day are spent reading and studying than talking with patients. But from the time I have spent working in hospitals both during and before medical school, it appears to me that physicians, and perhaps healthcare providers in general, are often forced to make a choice. Maybe it’s because of physical exhaustion, emotional burnout, a busy schedule, or some combination of it all. The reasons are probably many. But whether he or she frames it this way or not, every healthcare provider faces the question of whether to interact with each individual patient simply as a living body, filled with organs and perhaps diseases, or as a living person – a unique composite of family, friends, experiences, and spirit. Of course, no doctor you should be seeing is going to say “I think you are a diseased body, not a person.” That’s a little harsh. But when empathy, communication, and genuine concern are shortchanged in the name of efficiency and – whether it’s true or not – necessity, this is essentially what patients are being told in deed, if not in word. In July 2012, I had the opportunity of participating in Summer Medical Institute Philadelphia, or SMI Philly, a medical missions program jointly sponsored by Medical Campus Outreach of Tenth Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia and Esperanza Health Center. In this program, 18 of us – a team of Christian medical students, pharmacists, nurses, and premedical students – split up into smaller teams of two or four to provide free screenings for high blood pressure and diabetes in

the inner-city neighborhood of Kensington, referring patients who needed follow-up care to Esperanza. We would go door to door and street by street, and given the unpredictable nature of working in a densely-populated urban neighborhood, a team of two of us would sometimes need to screen entire households or small crowds all at once. From walking outside in the hot, humid July weather while carrying supplies and also screening and counseling patients, it wouldn’t take long for Eric Wang (back row, 2nd from left) is pictured me to start feeling exhausted, both physiwith his team of 17 other students. cally and emotionally. By midafternoon, I would at times tell a patient his or her many patients as I can, as quickly as I can. readings, but simply want to move on However, SMI Philly emphasized how to the next household. But by doing so, my patients are not simply living bodies I was essentially ignoring these individu- that need their blood pressures or blood als as people – I was becoming more in- glucose levels measured and maintained. terested in what a blood pressure gauge Unless there is a medical emergency could tell me about them than what they in which minutes will separate life and could tell me themselves. Listening with death, I should slow down, take my time, concern, giving truthful encouragement, listen, and connect. I may see fewer paand patiently suggesting healthy lifestyle tients overall, and I may exhaust myself changes had slowly fallen to the wayside, physically and emotionally more regusimply because I was tired and I wanted larly than I would like, but at least I will to save some energy to cover more houses be treating my patients as what they are – people. The best medical care possible by the end of the day. will also be the most compassionate care My experiences in SMI Philly showed me possible. that I am not immune to how pressures as simple as these can seemingly lead me to In times of fatigue and busyness, I know a dilemma. Do I invest fully in emotion- this will all be easy for me to forget or ally connecting with every single patient overlook, and I am sure I will have my fair I see, taking the time and effort to learn share of falling short. But my experiences about each of them and their lives – and in SMI Philly have taught me that those risk burning out before I see a large num- very circumstances will help me to conber of them – or do I conserve my energy tinue growing as a better physician – to in an expedient manner and connect with remember that empathy, compassion, and each patient much more superficially, but medical procedures have always been make it more likely for me to be able to meant to complement one another, not visit and screen a larger number of house- compete against each other for priority. holds? If I were only treating bodies with no emotions, hopes, dreams, or fears, then just as a mechanic may work on a garage full of cars, my goal should be to treat as

Eric Wang is a second-year medical student. He is from Duluth, GA and a graduate of University of Pennsylvania.

The ATHENS ADVOCATE — Winter 2013 Issue


Caring for Women in Peru By Joanna Eldredge & Natalie Nicholson

This past summer we had the incredible

opportunity to spend three weeks in Cusco, Peru. Founded in 2006 by Georgia Regents University (GRU) physician Dr. Daron Ferris, CerviCusco is a women’s health clinic and GRU’s Center for Global Health. The clinic provides care to all Peruvian women, especially those who face economic and geographic barriers to health care. The clinic is staffed by Peruvian healthcare workers, allowing the clinic to provide continuous care, while US physicians volunteer at the clinic throughout the year. An important service the clinic provides is regular Pap testing. The prevalence of cervical cancer is high in Peru due to a variety of factors, including limited access to health care for women. As a result, women are diagnosed at advanced stages where treatment options and survival rates are poor. We learned that cervical cancer used to be the number one cause of cancer death for women in the United States, but is now no longer in the top ten due to preventative Pap testing. Approximately 15 GRU-MCG medical students went on the trip during the month of May. Before we arrived at Cusco, we had training in Augusta where we learned how to perform Pap tests and breast exams. We also learned about other public health issues across the globe. In addition to days spent at the clinic performing Pap tests and assisting with surgeries, we went on several health campaigns throughout Cusco and the surrounding villages, where

we primarily performed Pap testing. For us, these experiences were the highlight of the trip since we really got to know the people of Peru and their day-to-day lifestyle. The health campaigns were held in any space that villages had available, either in their community health clinics or even in tents. While we felt like we were in the middle of nowhere, we found out that women were walking up to five hours to come see us, many of them carrying a baby on their backs and wearing sandals made out of recycled rubber from used tires. In one town, we performed over 300 Pap tests in one day! We faced language barriers since the women spoke either Spanish or Quechuan, which is an unwritten language native to the Andes Mountain’s region of Peru. The trip was not all work and no play—we had time to visit many of the unique places in Peru, including Macchu Picchu, Pisac, and several other ruins. The entire experience was not only an excellent opportunity to learn about women’s health procedures, but it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn about healthcare and culture in a region of the world that does not have the same resources as the US. We both had such a wonderful experience on the trip and hope to return to CerviCusco one day!

Joanna Eldredge is a second-year medical student. She is from Birmingham, AL and is a graduate of the University of Georgia. Natalie Nicholson is a second-year medical student. She is from Acworth, GA and is a graduate of the University of Georgia.

Left: Third-year medical students Meredith Maxwell, Cristina Elstad, & Sierra Green participated in the Georgia Academy of Family Physicians conference in November. Below: Dr. Don Scott observes second-year students Andrew Johnson & Joanna Eldredge during a Simulated Patient encounter.

12 GRU/UGA Medical Partnership

Student-Run Clinic

By Courtney Raybon, Russell Ledford, Wesley Bryson, and Rocco Cannistraro

T he medical students at the GRU/ UGA Medical Partnership are truly honored and grateful to have the opportunity to serve the underserved community through their own clinic held at the local Mercy Health Center (MHC). Begun in the spring of 2011, the clinic will be held every Wednesday evening during the 2013 spring semester and involves student volunteers, Medical Partnership and community physicians, MHC staff and other community volunteers. While it might appear that the Athens underserved are the greatest beneficiaries from the clinic, the medical students may claim this title. It is during this time that first and second year medical students - spending most of their time in didactic learning - have the opportunity to get valuable hands-on clinical training. It is an opportunity to practice taking a blood pressure measurement, checking a patient’s blood sugar, taking a good patient history, and many other aspects of clinical practice. The learning experience, however, is secondary to the patients and their care. Although Mercy Health Center is a free clinic, its staff and volunteers strive to provide the best care possible. Every patient deserves dignity, privacy and respect, as well as competent and compassionate medical care. We, the GRU/ UGA student clinic managers, believe

that patients receive this type of care on Wednesday nights. During our clinics, we have the opportunity to get to know patients through taking their medical history. Oftentimes, physicians don’t have a tremendous amount of time to sit down with their patients and have a lengthy conversation about each person’s medical history. As medical students, we have the chance to learn and grow from each and every patient we see. We recently had the opportunity to speak with a Mercy patient of ten years named Evelyn. She shared with us that she enjoyed having medical students at the clinic because “they’re real friendly, and they can help talk to you and provide you with some information that you don’t have. They just help when you need help.” She went on to share that “with this clinic, the students are very friendly. At other clinics, they don’t take time like the students do here. The students spend more time trying to help me understand… You can talk to them and say things to them that they won’t repeat. I love to come.” Every patient helps each medical student become a better doctor in the future. By sharing their personal story with us, we are able to develop our knowledge about illness, disease, and other situations that impact a person’s well-being. Evelyn feels that “it’s real good that we (the patients) can help y’all out. A lot of people – and I’m not talking about the MHC patients – want to let students do nothing

for them, but we know we need y’all, and y’all need us too.” Our conversation with Evelyn concluded with her advising us to “keep doing what you’re doing. Keep being friendly to people. Listen to what we (the patients) have to tell y’all.” From speaking with other patients during clinics, Evelyn is not alone in her belief that good bedside manner is paramount to clinical care. Our curriculum at the Medical Partnership stresses the importance of clinical skills and patient-centered care and seems to attract students interested in service to others. We look forward to continuing to serve the underserved population and the community as a whole in Athens. Courtney Raybon is a second-year medical student at the GRU/UGA Medical Partnership. She is from Athens, GA and a graduate of Berry College. Russell Ledford is a second-year medical student from Houston, TX and a graduate of the University of Georgia. Wesley Bryson is a second-year medical student from Rome, GA and a graduate of the University of Georgia. Rocco Cannistraro is a second-year medical student from Westport, Massachusetts and a graduate of Georgia Tech.

The ATHENS ADVOCATE — Winter 2013 Issue


Second Annual Research Symposium O n October 16, 2012, the GRU/UGA Medical Partnership hosted its second annual Research Symposium, which showcased the activities of students during the summer between their first and second year of medical studies. Students were encouraged to engage in a scholarly activity which could include laboratory science or clinical research. Students more interested in a participatory clinical experience were encouraged to also engage in “inquisitive observation and reflection” in order to derive a more complete understanding of the health problems within the context of the greater community. Over half of the current second-year class participated in a summer project, with 13 conducting research as part of the MCG Medical Scholars Program. While many students stayed in Georgia, several traveled out-of-state to focus on research that was of particular interest to them. Wes Bryson worked with Richard Caprioli, PhD, in the Mass Spectrometry Research Center at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “I had a wonderful time meeting and working with people from a wide range of educational backgrounds and cultures,” said Wes. “It was an excellent experience to engage in the research process that helps to continually advance our understanding of medicine. My research was the perfect opportunity to combine my previous experience in mass spectrometry with the knowledge I gained during the first year of medical school.” Alexandra Whitaker-Lea worked with Medical Partnership faculty member, Philip V. Holmes, PhD, and studied the effects of oral contraceptives on locus coeruleus galanin expression and anxietylike behavior. “My participation in the Summer Medical Scholars Program gave me the opportunity to participate in research, which I have never done before, in an area of science that I am particularly interested in,” said Alex. “As medical students, I think it is easy to overlook the amount of work that goes into creating medications and technological advances that ultimately will improve and guide our future practice of medicine.” While the main goal of the Research Symposium is to showcase student research, the symposium also offers first year students with the chance to learn more about summer opportunities and to ask second year students about their experiences. Applications are currently being prepared and submitted for summer 2013. “I focused on a feasibility study for oblique lateral lumbar interbody fusion (OLLIF), a novel spinal fusion technique pioneered by Dr. William Tally, a spinal surgeon at Athens Orthopedic Clinic. I enjoyed the chance to review a subset of the anatomy I had studied previously, as well as the opportunity to delve into more intricate aspects such as biomechanics and surgical techniques. I was involved in gathering and analyzing data, and observing in the operating room. Furthermore, I contributed authorship to a book. As my first experience submitting work for publication in scientific literature, this was truly an exercise in patience, insight, and sedulity.” - Boris Kovalenko

14 GRU/UGA Medical Partnership

“During my summer research experience I was able to do surgery (cannula placement) on rat subjects. It not only gave me a chance to learn more about neuro anatomy and physiology, but allowed me to care for a pseudo patient with anesthesia as well as post-operative care.” – Brian Brewer

“Working at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center through the American Association of Thoracic Surgeons’ Summer Intern Scholarship allowed me to gain many experiences in the surgical field normally reserved for those who are at least in their 3rd year surgery rotations or surgical residencies. Though I had only completed my first year of medical school, I was able to stand at the operating table and feel the beating hearts and expanding lungs of numerous patients, round with surgeons as they talked with patients postoperatively, and observe experimental surgical procedures for a rare form of lung cancer.” – Eric Wang

Student Spotlight

The Seven Year Journey to Medical School By Grace Yaguchi

A pproximately half of the current first year class have done something between their college graduation and entering the GRU/UGA Medical Partnership last fall. I, for one, worked seven years as an Information Technology (IT) consultant. This probably brings to mind several questions: What does that job even mean? How do the skills in that career translate into those of a doctor? Does this mean you can optimize my home wireless network for me?

studying General Engineering while pursuing a minor in Biomedical Engineering. Medical school was a tiny idea in the back of my mind, but I decided that since I wasn’t 110% certain about being a doctor, I should work towards getting a job after graduation. While some of my friends studied for the MCATs, I bought a business suit and hit the campus job fairs. I was lucky to receive and accept a job offer with a large international consulting company before graduation.

The job description of IT consultant covers a large area of software development, implementation, database support, outsourcing functions and many others. My seven years were mostly focused on process change documentation for new software implementations and team management for functional development. Still feeling lost? So was I. In the most general terms, most of the time I would work with clients to determine how a new software upgrade could help them do their job better. If there were some specific functions their business needed, I would work with the developers to customize the software. The final product would be tested, while training would be developed and delivered to the end users. Over the course of seven years and seven different clients, I had the opportunity to work in San Francisco, Chicago metro area, Atlanta, New York City metro area, Philadelphia metro area, Washington D.C. metro area, Peoria, Illinois and London, England. As you can probably infer, some of the work was more glamorous than others.

Traveling and earning a paycheck felt awesome. I received positive performance reviews and enjoyed working with my coworkers. However, that tiny idea of becoming a doctor kept growing bigger and bigger. I would catch myself wondering where I would be if I had decided to apply to medical school during college, or if it was too late to change careers and take the plunge. There is no single moment of clarity to describe – just self-reflection, conversations with loved ones, shadowing physicians, and a break from work to take some missing pre-requisites and the MCAT.

As an undergraduate, I attended the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign,

When I was considering medical school programs, I was drawn towards the focus

on Small Group Learning (SGL) at the Medical Partnership. I felt that my professional experience working in and leading teams would translate well into this curriculum. Even with individually-assigned tasks, the work is about being a functional member of a team. The SGL curriculum and small class size of the GRU/UGA Medical Partnership re-enforces those concepts and teaches us new ways to approach and improve the team environment. Each small group is comprised of 8 students and 2 faculty leaders. Together, we work through a clinical case in small pieces over the course of the week. This includes in-group discussion of the diagnosis, but also individual learning and teaching teammates about important concepts. In my team, the early weeks were rough. The students were eight strangers not only trying to understand new material, but how to teach and work with the group. As our group improved, I found myself calling on my previous training and experience to help my team identify problems, analyze them, and plan inquiry strategies. The seven years between graduating from college to now gave me a chance to mature a great deal. I certainly did not have the discipline or correct attitude to attend medical school when I was younger. My experience working also helped solidify my desire to do work that helped people directly. I look forward to continuing my education at the Medical Partnership and improving my ability to serve and heal people.

Grace Yaguchi is a first-year medical student. She is from Naperville, Illinois and a graduate of the University of Illinois.

The ATHENS ADVOCATE — Winter 2013 Issue


Our Medical Students In Action...

Third-year student, Nitya Nair, observes a wellness check-up while on her pediatric clerkship.

Bree Berry, Joseph Drwiega, and Aaron Goodwin follow Dr. Stephen Berry.

Pictured above left (L to R): Arif Mahmood (M1), Jeffrey Donahue (M2), Amber Bess (GRU Nursing), Missy Zeagler (GRU Nursing), Zach Rohm (M2), and Ryan Lam (M1) volunteered for Athens Land Trust.

Right: Third-year student, Anna Bunker, participates in a fetal ultrasound while on her obstetrics and gynecology clerkship with Dr. Andrew Herrin.

Medical Partnership & College of Nursing Students Volunteer Together for Athens Land Trust

By Missy Jackson

On a cool football Saturday in Athens, students from the GRU/

UGA Medical Partnership and the GRU College of Nursing Athens Campus joined together to provide blood pressure and blood glucose screenings at a community event sponsored by the Athens Land Trust. The Athens Land Trust is a non-profit agency that focuses on preserving land, affordable housing, and revitalization of communities. Currently, the organization is working with the Broad Acres community and has established a community garden. This garden serves as a food source for many in the community in addition to creating a sense of community. On this particular Saturday, the community was gathered at the site of the community garden, the Old Broad Street School, for cooking demonstrations, children’s activities, and a discussion about opening a farmers market.

GRU/UGA Medical Partnership students Arif Mahmood, Jeff Donahue, Zach Rohm, and Ryan Lam and College of Nursing Students Amber Bess and Missy Zeagler were available to the participants for blood pressure screenings and blood sugar screenings. The students also distributed information on diabetes prevention and breast cancer detection. Partially sponsored by St. Mary’s Health Care System, this event provided students with the opportunity to participate in interdisciplinary care within the community. “Collaboration within the colleges of nursing and medicine will result in stronger leadership and collaboration in the workforce,” said Julia Behr, Assistant Dean for CONAT-Athens Campus. “It is so refreshing to see these health care providers doing so much in our community.” Missy Jackson, MS, WHNP-BC is an Instructor at the GRU College of Nursing Athens Campus.

Athens Advocate Winter 2013  

Winter 2013 Quarterly Newsletter

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