The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”   -George Bernard Shaw


Communicating is Key… To Our Future

We absolutely think communication is super important so we all have a pulse of what is happening in our many worlds, the literal one as well as our more local ones like work, community, and home. Those of us privileged to be in the medical profession know that absolutely includes communicating with our patients, their families, and our colleagues in their care. In fact, studies have shown that even when what we have to say is not great news, it is important to be up front and clear about what is going on and where we are headed. So we are super proud to share this week that our Dr. William H. Salazar, an internist and psychiatrist, is taking on a couple of very important roles in ensuring future docs are good communicators. It seems that a comprehensive review of the United States Medical Licensing Exam, a three-part test physicians-to-be take as they move through medical school and into residency, was determined deficient in testing the important areas of communication and interpersonal skills and professionalism. So Dr. Salazar is going to help fix that! He has been appointed to a 12-member task force of the National Board of Medical Examiners that will help develop methods for assessing these skills for the USMLE and a concurrent appointment to the USMLE 2014 Test Material Development Committee. We are very proud of the important role he continues to play nationally and, of course, right here at home. Dr. Salazar also is a National Facilitator for Faculty Development for the American Academy on Health Care Communications, has helped the American Board of Internal Medicine develop Communication Skills Modules, and has previously served on the NBME Behavioral Sciences Test Committee, as well as the USMLE Step 1 Behavioral Sciences Test Material Development Committee.  Closer to home he is a terrific educator and patient advocate, serving as President of the Asociacion Latina de Servicios of the CSRA and Medical Director of Clinica Latina, a free primary- and acute-care clinic, which we have talked about previously. Just super awesome on so many important fronts. Our thanks and congratulations go out to him.

Amazing Children and Community Support Are As Well…

Here’s more cause for celebration! We talked last week about the upcoming Children’s Miracle Network. This week we are super-proud to report that more than $906,000 has been raised for our children’s hospital this year. We just have to thank our community and WRDW again for their remarkable support of the children’s hospital. We want to thank families as well for entrusting us with their children. Talk about making a real difference. When you can help a child and family through sickness or an accident, you can make a lifetime of difference. Henry Stephens IV is one mega-charming example. This 9-year-old is amazing by anybody’s definition. He had major surgery at our children’s hospital as an infant and by age six was making even a crummy weather day look fabulous as the youngest weatherman ever on WRDW-TV, our partner for the Children’s Miracle Network. Henry has branched out from the weather since, doing a lot of amazing reports on his regular television segment, Henry’s Corner, on WRDW. Well for the telethon, he did some super reporting on our hybrid cath lab, pediatric emergency department and, one of everybody’s favorites, pet therapy. He also hung in there Sunday afternoon with Meredith Anderson and Richard Rogers broadcasting live from the children’s hospital lobby so he could help share the stories of other amazing children and families. Awesome job, Henry! You can learn more about Henry here:  and check out some of his fab reporting as well as other highlights of the telethon here:

Endless Enthusiasm Doesn’t Hurt Either…

We talk regularly about our super students who, like their educators and mentors, just never seem to stop going that extra mile in the classroom, the community, or life generally. Well, 16 of our superstar freshmen (soon to be sophomores) are spending their summers doing fascinating research alongside some of our equally fab Department of Medicine faculty as part of our Dean’s Student Summer Research Program. To kick things off right, the department held a welcome mixer where students and their mentors could share some pizza and conversation. What a great idea. Department Manager Justin Pantano tells us this was the first time they have done this, but it definitely will not be the last. We sure hope not. A terrific idea that we hope others will emulate. Great thinking DOM! We think it’s going to be a great summer!

Especially When it Means Going that Extra Mile…

Speaking of going that extra mile, let’s talk for a moment about Lisa Kuglar. Many of you may not have met her, but Ms. Kuglar is the Director of Social Services at East Central Regional Hospital, a place for individuals with mental and/or developmental disabilities. Hopefully most of you know that we help manage this fine facility with our colleagues at the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities.  This has really been a terrific state partnership for better than five years now. We help provide patient care there and it also has become an incredible educational site for our medical school. Certainly all of us can learn from Ms. Kuglar. We understand that she is a true textbook about essential, but often difficult to understand and maneuver, resources for patients like provider networks and payer sources. She uses that vast knowledge to be a relentless advocate for her patients, never shying away from even the most complex bureaucratic maze. Like so many of you, she also is helping mentor the next generation of social workers by sharing her invaluable insight and passion with new graduates who join the ECRH team. You get the idea and it earns a serious, sustainable: Wow.  It also earned her the annual Augusta Coalition for Mental Health Advocacy’s Advocate of the Year Award. Amazing job, Ms. Kuglar.

For Patients… In Our Clinical Facilities

We also wanted to share a bit about another remarkable individual who will be bringing 30 years of experience in nursing and leadership to us a week from Monday. Laura Brower is our new Chief Nursing Officer and will also be Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs at the College of Nursing. Ms. Brower got her start as a pediatric staff nurse at Forrest General Hospital in historic Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Much more recently, she managed at team of 3,500 nurses at eight hospitals for the Methodist Healthcare System in San Antonio. Here at our clinical facilities, she will be overseeing about 1,300 nurses at our adult and children’s hospitals and outpatient facilities. She’ll also help strengthen the bonds between our clinical facilities and the College of Nursing, ensuring, among other things, that our nursing students get terrific clinical experience. Please join us in welcoming Ms. Brower to this essential role in the care of our patients and optimal management of our clinical activities. We are super excited to have her on our team.

And Our Research Labs…

We are not excited to share that our country is one of the few places where liver cancer is on the increase. Apparently that’s primarily because record rates of obesity and diabetes are producing record amounts of chronic inflammation, which is a big risk factor for this very aggressive cancer. Please note this increase is in the face of significant inroads with hepatitis vaccines that have actually reduced liver cancer rates in other countries. Right now, surgeons cut out what they can but there is no effective adjuvant therapy and recurrence rates are way too high, at about 70 percent within five years. So Dr. Yukai He is having terrific success in developing a therapeutic vaccine that may one day dramatically reduce those rates. As vaccines do, he is making the most of the body’s own ability to fight disease, by getting the attention of the immune system. He figured out that one reason other vaccines hadn’t worked out very well is that the antigen – the thing that gets the attention of the immune system – they were using, called Alpha-Fetoprotein, or AFP, was already something the immune system had seen. You see, it’s expressed by our bodies during development, then essentially goes away. It shows up again in about 80 percent of the most common liver cancer cells, which have to resume a much more immature state to thrive. So he altered AFP just a hair and now the vaccine is working like a charm in mice. Awesome. He’s making some of the first steps toward human work now, primarily thanks to a $1.6 million grant from the National Cancer Institute. Way to go Dr. He, cancer seems way too ingenious at times and we need folks like you to outdo it!  Check out more here: and here

Celebrating Successes All Along the Way…

Just one more reminder to please join in the celebration of our newest department chairs, endowed chairs, Regents’ professors, and Professors Emeritus at the annual Investiture Ceremony this very Thursday, 5:30 pm, at the Lee Auditorium!

And Remembering…

Finally today, we pause to acknowledge the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the amazing bravery, sacrifice, and commitment to freedom of our veterans.

Upcoming Events

June 12 – Investiture Ceremony, 5:30 pm, Lee Auditorium, reception follows.

Aug. 6 – First day of class for our freshmen!

Sept. 6 – Please mark your calendars for the university’s Day of Service to the community.

Oct. 11 – White Coat Ceremony, 2 pm Bell Auditorium.

Enjoy your weekend.