Week 25: Good Doctors
By the time this fiscal year ends in 3 days, faculty in the department of medicine (DoM) would have logged in excess of 2 million patient encounters. Embedded in these numbers are stories of compassion, a commitment to quality, a commitment to training the next generation of physicians and how we got here.
At the beginning of last week, the DoM and UCLA Health celebrated the distinguished career of Farah Elahi, chief of operations for ambulatory and community practices at UCLA Health. Farah will officially be retiring on June 29th.
For nearly four decades, Farah has been instrumental in the growth of our community practices. She has left an indelible mark on UCLA Health – now a nationally recognized provider of the highest quality outpatient care in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. She has built enduring partnerships within UCLA Health and throughout the many communities we serve.
Farah’s career at UCLA Health began as a lab technician in Dr. Fogelman’s lab. She quickly set herself apart as a visionary leader who has always been fearless in the pursuit of her goals. As Dr. Fogelman shared during the celebration, Farah has a big heart, coupled with unparalleled negotiation skills, making it impossible to say no to her. She helped lead our first health system expansion efforts into Santa Monica, which has ultimately resulted in 250 thriving community practices across Southern California and the Central Coast. Farah has held senior leadership positions that have included chief administrative officer (CAO), CAO of the CAO group, and most recently chief of operations for ambulatory and community practices. Most importantly, throughout her 37+ years of service she has served as an advocate and mentor to countless faculty and staff. In the months that I have known her, I have concluded that Farah is indeed a force of nature. We are grateful to have worked alongside her and will continue to build on her legacy.
View pictures of the celebration event at Royce Hall HERE.
To maintain our momentum and growth, we recruit and onboard significant numbers of physicians each year. I am pleased to share that our first-year clinician educators within the Department of Medicine Practice Group (DMPG) completed their onboarding program designed to support a successful transition into their community practices. Over the past year, this cohort of 59 physicians met once a month to learn about essential tools and resources to build a thriving clinical practice, to develop their roles to further the DoM’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, to chart their path to academic advancement at David Geffen School of Medicine, and to acquire skills to excel as medical educators. The onboarding sessions were led by faculty from every DoM division, and program leadership that includes (from left to right) Dr. Janet Pregler, Dr. Behi Rabbani, Dr. Arielle Sommer, and Joash Wampande.
Dr. Pregler notes that,
“our onboarding team is privileged to work with talented new faculty each year. The physicians who join us are committed to the missions of the UCLA Department of Medicine, as world leaders in patient care, medical education, and research.”
I echo this sentiment and acknowledge our community physicians’ impact in advancing all our missions. I look forward to seeing you thrive in your practices and commit to providing ongoing support to ensure your success and well-being.
We celebrated the graduation of the 2022 class of dermatologists on Friday. For many years our dermatology division has hosted a residency program that has trained and placed highly regarded dermatologists across the country. The current graduating class will continue that legacy. Congratulations!
Congratulations as well to the recipients of faculty teaching awards (pictured from left to right):
Let me share with you a recent example of ways in which our faculty and trainees have gone beyond the call of duty with a message that I received last weekend from Dr. Daniel Cruz MD, PhD, one of our cardiology faculty who granted me permission to share an excerpt.
“Dear Dr. Abel, Fonarow, Medicine and Cardiology Program directors:
My last patient of the day on Friday afternoon was an elderly lady accompanied by her daughter. She had a history of diabetes for 30 years and the year prior, had received 30 cycles of radiation to the chest for Hodgkin lymphoma. The night prior, she had four hours of chest pain and her electrocardiogram showed new changes. She was escorted to the ER and on my way home I told the admitting team and ER triage about her.
I went home and spent time with family and my father in law, who is surrounded by loved ones during his last days or weeks.
I signed on to finish notes around 1030 and by the time I went to close this patient’s chart, it was midnight, which is when I realized she had left the ER. Triage makes a note that she was called but was nowhere to be found. I hoped she was ok. Perhaps recurrent chest pain would bring her back.
The CCU team, having heard about her, took the time to call her at home. She had left due to the long wait. The CCU admitting team convinced her to come back in, reassuring her the service would be expedited.
She had an abnormal troponin and this morning, an angiogram confirmed severe three vessel surgical disease, with sluggish flow down the LAD. And she was also positive for COVID.
There is so much to learn from these events, but it is always the kindness of others - in this case the admitting team- that moves me the most. In our fatigue and as we battle burnout, it’s important to celebrate our trainees and how much we learn from them, as well.”
Dr. Megan Kamath, attending cardiologist responded with the following:
“There is no greater joy as the attending on service to see in action how your trainees have gone above and beyond the call of duty despite a complex service and challenging call night.
I too add my sincere appreciation for the dedication of my team to taking care of this patient.
Thank you, Dan, and all for recognizing us- it means a lot.”
A special shout-out to our two CCU residents, Dr. Ashley Pournamdari (pictured left) and Dr. Alex Guzner (pictured right) for your commitment to doing the right thing in advocating for and caring for this patient. Your example is an inspiration for all of us.
It does not end here. The next day, the chief residents shared with me the following message from Akop Chirishyan, one of our MICU nurses on the 4 ICU team.
“I just wanted to take the time to send a special shoutout to a few interns for their amazing performance in MICU this past academic year. They've always been very responsive to our needs, respectful to the MICU staff, always willing to teach even when being stretched thin, and just overall phenomenal to work with.
Jonathan Boiarsky, Sergio De La Torre, Mona Deng, Michael Duan, Rev Kosaraju, Marek Kowalski, Chris Lees, Albert Lui, Natalie Morgan, Marcus Munoz, Christopher Soriano,Eileen Shiuan, Michael Raddatz, Greg Stone, Annie Yang, Jessica Osorio, Cameron Hines.
I hope they get the recognition that they deserve. I look forward to seeing them continue to excel as seniors!”
I hope your heart is as full as mine as you read these words of commendation to our amazing house staff. We are lucky to have you here.
I spoke to the new interns on Wednesday as they wrapped up their orientation. We talked about things that they were worried about as they begin their careers with us and a common theme was how to maintain our high standards and not make mistakes. At first, I assured them that we are confident that they will rise to any challenge, but more importantly reiterated our strong commitment to mentorship, creating a supportive learning environment and our team-based approach to training which has over the years generated amazing and incredibly competent internists.
Ultimately it is our patient’s outcomes that matter, and this was epitomized by one more email that I will share from a grateful patient, who has given me permission to share his words of praise for care that he received from one of our endocrine fellows Dr. Amit Sumal (pictured right).
“Dear Dr. Abel,
I recently underwent a hospitalization at UCLA after a diagnosis of an aggressive form of lymphoma. I am a Type 1 diabetic, and the chemotherapy regimen I underwent included very high doses of prednisone. As a result, I was placed on insulin drip, and unfortunately subject to finger pricks on an almost hourly basis for a week.
I was truly fortunate to have come under the care of Dr. Amit Sumal for my diabetes/insulin management during this chemo. Out of all the physicians I worked with he stands-out due to his diligence and level of understanding around my particular care.
He truly listened to me and was concerned with me as a human being. I never felt like I was ‘just another case’. Dr. Sumal clearly understood that diabetics know their own disease… and are not necessarily comfortable with others managing it for them. He helped include me in the decision-making process (as much as he could), and that meant the world to me as a fiercely independent and tightly controlled T1D.
Lastly, Dr. Sumal went above and beyond in his discharge note to my outpatient endocrinologist (at another facility). It was so diligent that my Dr. went so far as to say that she had never seen a note like this from another provider!
To summarize, Dr. Sumal was acting like the kind of Dr. that you would hope you get (but rarely do).
Frankly, I would be immensely happy if he were the endocrinologist during my next hospitalization, although I’m not aware about how the inpatient consult teams work in the hospital.
I thought it was important that you hear that you have a true superstar on your team.
With doctors like this, who would not want to be taken care of here?
I have my annual physical scheduled for later next month. So I too will be a consumer of health care within UCLA health and the DoM. Maybe, I’ll write to myself a letter of praise after the consultation with my PCP.