Excellence, Rewarded

Honoring a Veteran

Veteran Richard Layton, M.D. ’54, received the University of Washington’s 2014 Distinguished Alumni Veterans Award in November 2014. A petty officer, second class, in World War II, Dr. Layton traveled to Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands on a top-secret mission, charting the effects of atomic bomb blasts on naval ships at sea. Following his service, Dr. Layton practiced family medicine and served as director of the family medicine residency program at Providence Hospital. An advocate for rural medicine, he also helped pioneer the WWAMI and MEDEX Northwest programs.

A Local Humanitarian

Acknowledged by her peers and patients as a vital part of the Native American healthcare community throughout the state of Montana, LeeAnna Muzquiz, M.D. ’00, was given the Dr. George Saari Humanitarianism Award by Montana State University in 2014. Dr. Muzquiz is the medical director and a full-time physician for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (of which she is a member). In addition to serving as a specialist in adolescent medicine, women’s health and diabetes for the Tribal Health Department, she is active in health policy and advocacy issues. Dr. Muzquiz also serves on the WWAMI Montana Program admissions committee.

An Award for Advocacy

In October, the Multicultural Alumni Partnership honored alumnus Benjamin Vazquez, M.D. ’07, with the 2014 Distinguished Alumnus Award. Dr. Vazquez was recognized for his commitment to underserved communities in southwest Washington and for his advocacy in promoting healthcare careers for minority, LGBTQ and rural students.

A Taste of “Real” Life With the SAID Program

Vijaya Galic, M.D. ’04, Res. ’10, spoke with students interested in her work as an OB/GYN at a regional cancer center.

Remember what it was like in medical school? Were you enthusiastic and full of questions about life as a physician? Today’s students are, too, and through Student-Alumni Informational Discussions (SAID), they have an opportunity to hear directly from the alumni who were once in their shoes.

SAID is a long-standing program that provides students with an opportunity to speak with alumni — over a meal or coffee — in an informal setting. The program takes place twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring. In November, 30 physicians representing more than 20 specialties met with 82 students to share their perspectives.

“The students are always engaged and grateful for the candid conversation and the connection we make,” says host Jane Lester, M.D. ’86, Res. ’90. “We talk about autonomy, night call, hospital rounds, income, burnout, student loan debt, specialty practice, residency, fellowships, role models and more. I learn as much from them — about medical education today — as they learn from me.”

If you’d like to host a group of students, visit uwmedalumni.org/volunteer for more information. You may also contact the UW School of Medicine Alumni Relations office at medalum@uw.edu, 206.685.1875 or toll free at 1.866.633.2586, and they will be glad to let you know when it’s time to sign up for the fall session.

Readiness for Real-life Doctoring: Curriculum Renewal

What’s the bottom-line goal for curriculum renewal in 2015? “We’re making sure we’re preparing students for how they’ll be practicing medicine,” says Michael J. Ryan, M.D., Res. ’89, Chief Res. ’90, associate dean for curriculum for the School of Medicine.

At the UW School of Medicine and throughout the WWAMI states, medical educators have been putting their heads together, considering how best to anticipate the knowledge and skills M.D. students will need after seven-plus years of medical school and residency. Their answers run the gamut from developing skills at evidence-based medicine, to learning to work on teams with other medical professionals, to assessing and managing the needs of groups of patients with specific conditions.

The courses in the new curriculum are being built by teams of scientists and physicians from throughout WWAMI, and they will present science that is important to the practice of medicine. There will be a significant reduction in the number of traditional lectures; most sessions will be interactive, based on clinical cases. And exposure to patients and clinical care during the early classroom phase of the curriculum will increase — and will start as soon as the students arrive.

“The input and feedback we’ve received has been incredibly valuable,” says Ryan.

Marcella Pascualy, M.D., Res. ’88, and R. Lane Brown, Ph.D., participate at a planning meeting for the new curriculum. The meeting, held in January 2015, brought together faculty from throughout the five-state region of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. “It was great to meet in person, rather than simply over the phone,” says Ryan.

Detective Work

When Claudia Crowell, M.D. ’06, was only 13, her parents were stationed in the Foreign Service in Bamako, Mali. She came to know a physician at the U.S. embassy who was a close family friend. “He helped me see the disparities in human health across the globe,” says Crowell.

Moved by the poor living conditions and health of many local children, Crowell knew she wanted to improve the health of children in resource-limited countries, but not precisely how. At medical school, she conducted research in pediatric HIV, and her College head, Sherilyn Smith, M.D. ’97, Fel. ’97, created a clinical observership in the pediatrics infectious diseases clinic for her.

“ID is really a lot of detective work, like solving a complicated puzzle,” says Crowell. She liked how infectious diseases combined patient-specific and population-based research, geared to improve the health of entire populations.

Crowell is now conducting a pilot with HIV-infected children receiving antiretroviral therapy in Kenya. Her hope is to identify a treatment to optimize neurocognition. “As HIV has become more of a chronic disease, and these children are now surviving into adulthood, it is important to find ways to help them achieve their full potential,” Crowell says.

Real-time Impact on Global Health

“Maybe I’m impatient,” says Celine Gounder, M.D. ’04. “Maybe I just want to have an impact on public health sooner.” The desire to make a real-time difference is reflected in her career trajectory; after college, she worked under Ralph Nader on tuberculosis awareness and earned a master’s in epidemiology at Johns Hopkins — all before entering the UW School of Medicine.

At medical school, Gounder co-founded the International Health Group and helped establish international health electives. Trips to Soweto, South Africa, to work with HIV- and TB-affected populations punctuated her time as a student and her residency at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Gounder then spent several years researching TB and HIV in sub-Saharan Africa while at Johns Hopkins, but she eventually found it frustrating. “It is hard in academia to have an impact on public health,” says Gounder, “at least not until much later in your career.” After working for the New York City’s health department, she decided to make a shift. She stepped back and took a look at her husband’s career: the media.

“I saw medical journalism as another way of having a public-health impact,” says Gounder. So she started writing and speaking about issues ranging from Ebola, to measles, to prescription pain medications. Her work has been web-published by The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Reuters, and she appears frequently on CNN and Al Jazeera America. “I try to be the voice of reason in these discussions,” she says. “I think there’s really a need for thoughtful medical reporting.”

Gounder, who practices medicine part-time for the Mount Sinai Health System in New York, is now volunteering in Guinea with the International Medical Corps, focusing on training and capacity-building to address the Ebola outbreak. “Career satisfaction is not just about the long-term impact, it’s also about feeling fulfilled day-to-day,” she explains. “I think I am finally arriving at a place where I have both.”