Year 2. October 2. Building and Supporting Community.

At the heart of our department are the faculty and staff who are incredibly dedicated to advancing our missions. Over the course of the last three months, I have had the privilege of meeting with hundreds of faculty and staff, in five town halls and a visit to Olive View UCLA Medical Center. These town halls focused respectively on research-based faculty, clinician educators based in Westwood, in the South Bay and the San Fernando valley. We concluded our wellness town halls series with our esteemed hospitalists last Thursday, September 28th at the UCLA Luskin Center. I used these meetings to provide updates on the progress being made in our strategic plan, share the results of the spring 2023 Wellness Surveys, and summarized initiatives that we have put in place already, or plan to put in place soon. These initiatives will continue to enhance faculty well-being and to affirm the department’s support and commitment to policies that will make our department a place for all faculty to thrive. Importantly, these meetings also provided an important opportunity for me to hear from all of you. A few highlights of the initiatives discussed include:

  • Revision of compensation methodology for faculty engaged in research and educational missions
  • Implementation of sustainability blocks across all of our ambulatory practices
  • Wellness days and flexibility in education time
  • Financial support for activities to build community within divisions
  • Expanded peer and professional coaching for faculty physicians
  • Implementation and ongoing expansion of initiatives to support clinic-based faculty, including pharmacy refill support and various efforts to reduce InBasket message burden

We are entering the final stages of our strategic plan. We are finalizing our vision, values, goals and finalizing specific details about our strategic framework. Four strategy design teams have been hard at work developing tactics that will define our strategic goals in the areas of research, education, clinical, and community engagement. We are on track to finalize the strategic plan and implement its launch by the end of November. In the meantime, I encourage you stay informed about the latest in the strategic planning process by visiting our website, and continuing to engage with members of the strategic planning committee to share your thoughts and provide feedback that will  inform our future. Enjoy a collection of pictures capturing faculty and staff from across our geographic region who attended our town hall series this year!

Donna Washington, MD, MPH Elected to UCLA Fielding School of Public Health Hall of Fame

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Donna Washington who will be inducted into the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health’s (FSPH) Hall of Fame. Established in 2022, the FSPH Hall of Fame honors alumni’s outstanding career accomplishments in public health and their dedication to the school’s core values, mission, and vision. For decades, Dr. Washington has dedicated her research to women’s health and addressing disparities that affect underserved populations, that include racial/ethnic minorities and women veterans. Her research has informed national VA policies regarding the delivery of care for women and has earned her additional accolades that include the VA’s Career Development Award, the 2015 Society of General Internal Medicine’s Herbert Nickens Award, and the 2019 Congressional Black Caucus Veterans Braintrust Award. Dr. Washington a professor of medicine in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and serves as the director of Health Services Research for the VA Greater Los Angeles Department of Medicine.

Dr. Washington joins other inductees who devote their time and talent in support of building a healthier future together through an ardent commitment to leadership, research, service, and teaching in communities both near and far. Congratulations Donna!

Making the Rounds with Residents

A personal highlight for me last week was the kick-off of chairman’s rounds with the residents in the wards at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. A core privilege of working in a teaching hospital is the opportunity to round at the bedside and collaborate with patients under our care to hone the clinical and diagnostic skills of our students and trainees. Many pressures are pulling our trainees away from the bedside, but there is broad consensus that incorporating bedside teaching into their education  provides opportunities for honing skills, observing and receiving feedback, and enhancing teamwork and communication, while also fostering a patient-centered care ethos. I also hope that activities like this will  foster connections between department  leadership and house staff, cultivate community, camaraderie, and a shared sense of purpose.

It was a pleasure  to rejoin the residents from firm E for this educational endeavor. The opportunity to mentor house staff and medical students in mastering physical exam skills and clinical reasoning is a privilege that we must foster as teaching attendings, as we are training those who will succeed us in the future. Our rounds included seeing a patient in the emergency department. It was abundantly clear that there are many in our community that are choosing to come to our medical center to receive world class care. I acknowledge the incredible work being led by our residents and hospitalists daily who are managing these tremendous clinical demands, while teaching our trainees within our medical center. It truly is a privilege to work alongside such a dedicated group of medical leaders, mentors, and trainees.

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month 

From September 15 through October 15, we observe Hispanic Heritage Month to celebrate the history, culture and contributions of the U.S. Latino and Hispanic communities whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America and how they have influenced and contributed to American society at large. In California, the Hispanic community makes up 39% of the population, 48% of the population in Los Angeles County, and 47% in the city of Los Angeles. Often, our Hispanic community members are disproportionately impacted by adverse health outcomes due to social determinants of health and a lack in access to quality and timely health care. As a department, we are deeply committed to increasing awareness about these issues, while advancing equity and justice for our Hispanic community and the broader community to ensure that they have an opportunity to lead healthy lives. In celebration of Hispanic Heritage month, I am pleased to highlight a few of our faculty members who are leading this essential work throughout the department of medicine, UCLA Health, and the community at large.

Veronica Ramirez, MD (Hospitalist Section)

Dr. Veronica Ramirez, clinical lead of the UCLA Downtown Hospitalist Cohort, has provided leadership to seven of our faculty members who are core teaching faculty in the inpatient general medicine teaching service at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital. This training partnership was implemented last year as an expansion of the teaching services and patient care that the DoM provides throughout our community hospital partners who operate in communities that face significant challenges in accessing quality health care and were disproportionally impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Let me thank Dr. Ramirez and our faculty serving at MLK Jr. Community Hospital for your commitment to serve the local community and train the next generation of physicians who will continue to pay it forward for years to come.

Jose Escarce, MD, PhD (Division of GIMHSR)

Dr. Jose Escarce is  a distinguished professor of medicine and vice chair for academic affairs in the DoM. Jose a member of the National Academy of Medicine, chairs the Department of Medicine Committee on Appointments and Promotions (MedCAP), an elected body with proportionate representation from five program sites. MedCAP plays an essential role in evaluating the promotion dossiers submitted by members of our faculty, prior to advancing them to campus for further assessment of their eligibility for promotion. As a distinguished investigator.  Dr. Escarce’s research interests focus on health economics, managed care, and racial and ethnic disparities in medical care. He has studied racial differences in the utilization of surgical procedures and diagnostic tests by elderly Medicare beneficiaries.

His latest work has examined how we may address the socio-demographic barriers to access health care in managed care organizations. In addition to being a professor of medicine in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Dr. Escarce is a professor of health policy and management in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, and senior natural scientist at RAND.

Alejandra Casillas, MD, MSHS (Division of GIMHSR)

Dr. Casillas’ career has been laser focused on health equity, which has defined her research focus. In recognition of her contributions, The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) named Dr. Casillas, assistant professor-in-residence of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, as one of its Emerging Leaders in Health and Medicine Scholars who are  studying ways to improve health for all.  Her studies examine how medical care access and interventions can be developed to improve the quality of life for minority and limited-English-speaking populations. 

Last year, she received federal funding to pilot telehealth interventions for limited English proficient speakers who are living with diabetes mellitus. The project will use quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate the factors that affect the use of telemedicine among English and Spanish speakers. This project is based on a partnership with the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. The project will inform the tailored design of a Spanish/English patient health coaching intervention to increase and facilitate telemedicine use and conduct a pilot/feasibility study of the bilingual intervention.

Jesus Araujo, MD, MSC, PhD (Division of Cardiology)

Dr. Jesus Araujo is a world leader in studies linking exposure to environmental pollution and chronic disease outcomes, particularly cardiovascular disease.  His lab at UCLA focuses on two areas of investigation:  Environmental cardiology to determine how particulate matter impacts atherosclerosis and ischemic heart disease and the biology of vascular oxidative stress.  This week, Dr. Araujo led an insightful DoM Grand Rounds, “Medical Implications of Particles in the Air.”  His lecture started by reminding us that certain neighborhoods, with disproportionate representation by members of the Hispanic community are environments with increased exposure to particulate pollutants. In his lecture, Jesus noted that we all live in an echo system that is full of particles of various types and sizes, many of which are dangerous.

In addition to describing basic mechanisms by which these particulates contribute to  cardiovascular disease, he discussed the various ways that we as a community can work together to mitigate the health consequences of air particles that lead to the development of disease. Strategies included stopping the source, avoiding or neutralizing particles, developing prophylaxis or blockades, and improving the treatments available for those affected by environmental particles. The lecture represented an interesting convergence of basic science and environmental  exposure as a driver of  social determinants of health that  exacerbate cardiovascular disease.

Jane C. Fazio, MD (Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine)

It is noteworthy that this week, work of another member of our faculty Dr. Jane Fazio was prominently highlighted in the national press. Dr. Fazio’s work has underscored the disproportionate impact of working conditions on young Hispanic men who make the  quartz countertops that decorate the kitchens of many homes in our region. You may read some of the news coverage below.

California workers who cut countertops are dying of an incurable disease

The booming popularity of countertops made of engineered stone has driven a new epidemic of silicosis, an incurable lung disease, researchers have found.

Engineered stone counter tops are killing workers at high rates. What can consumers do about it?

Silicosis, a disease caused by silica dust produced when workers cut and grind engineered stone, is afflicting workers. What consumers can do about it.

These are just a few examples of our faculty who are leading important research that addresses specific needs of Hispanic and diverse communities. Throughout our department, many more are leading this essential work focused on making health care equitable and just.

Evelyn A. Curls, MD, MBA Appointed Vice Chair of Ambulatory Medicine for the UCLA Department of Medicine and Clinical Chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research

Please join me in congratulating Evelyn A. Curls, MD, MBAwho has been appointed vice chair of ambulatory medicine for the DoM and clinical chief of the UCLA Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research (GIM/HSR). As the vice chair of ambulatory medicine, Dr. Curls will be responsible for leading and ensuring effective and collaborative clinical practice across all DoM primary care and specialty ambulatory services, working closely with DoM training programs, other clinical departments with which the DoM actively partners in the delivery of ambulatory services, and the health system. As clinical chief of the division of GIM/HSR, Dr. Curls will provide oversight for the regional medical directors/associate clinical chiefs of each DoM-based geographic region. Read the full announcement. 

Congratulations Evelyn! Welcome to our leadership team!

Join us at DoM Grand Rounds In Person

Grand rounds are back in person. I know that we have gotten used to virtual grand rounds during the pandemic, but I believe that it is important for us to convene again as a department for this important weekly conference. We will continue to offer a hybrid format for those members of our faculty not based in Westwood. I encourage you to participate in our weekly grand rounds by joining us in Tamkin Auditorium each Thursday at noon. It is an opportunity for you to hear from our faculty who are leaders in medical innovation, meet with our trainees, and earn CME credit! I hope to see you soon in person at an upcoming lecture. 

Having said that, note that this week we will have a joint Grand Rounds with the UCLA Department of Surgery on Wednesday morning!

8th Annual Saleh Salehmoghaddam, MD Lectureship:
a special combined grand rounds (department of medicine and department of surgery).

headshot of Wen Shen in blue shirt and blue tie



Tamkin Auditorium & Zoom

8am - Combined Grand Rounds



Everyone is going back in person for grand rounds!! This is what it looked like a few weeks ago, when I was invited to give Grand Rounds at Chung-Ang University in Seoul, during my visit to Korea for an international conference.

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