“The supreme quality for a leader is unquestionably integrity.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
A Labor of Love…
This coming Monday is definitely YOUR day. It’s Labor Day and that day honors working folks for their contributions to the strength, prosperity and wellbeing of our country. As we so love to say: nobody does it better than you! You don’t just work hard, you work smart and proudly and we are super proud and super thankful for you. We think it’s tremendously fitting that on Labor Day, an individual who exemplifies hard work officially becomes our new Chairman of Otolaryngology. Dr. Stil Kountakis has been at the frontline and behind the scenes for so much of the important work that has been carried out at our medical school for the past decade. He is a preceptor for medical student’s individual research projects, an otolaryngology advisor for the Match, a member of our Graduate Medical Education Committee, and directs our Rhinology Fellowship and Otolaryngology Residency Program. He has been Vice Chair of the department since 2003 and, this man who truly appreciates the beauty and fabulous function of our sinuses, has also served as Chief of Rhinology-Sinus Surgery and, of course, directed our Sinus Center. He led our practice group for two years. Time for a “Whew!” here but we are just getting started. His peers across the state and nation also respect this great surgeon and educator. Dr. Kountakis is Vice President of the American Laryngological, Rhinological, and Otological Society, Southern Section, a member of the Board of Directors and Past President of the Georgia Society of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, a Past President of the American Rhinologic Society, and the society’s 2011 Golden Mirror Teaching Award recipient. He has edited a bunch of books, including being Editor-in-Chief of the first encyclopedia of otolaryngology. Seriously cool, important stuff here. Please join in congratulating Dr. Kountakis on his new job and history of already excellent service. And, one more time, let us thank you for yours!
A Legacy of Excellence…
Okay, we need to make at least one more-specific thank you here and that is to Dr. David Terris, who has served as our otolaryngology Chairman for about a dozen years. In fact, he’s our inaugural chair and boy did he enable the department to get off to one awesome start. Over the years, he has made that tough climb from less than a handful of faculty to 13. Some of his latest recruits are Dr. George Harris, a pediatric otolaryngologist who completed his fellowship training at the University of Iowa and Medical University of South Carolina, and Dr. Sarah Mowry, otologist, who did her fellowship training at the University of Iowa. Dr. J. Kenneth Byrd, who just started this month, is fresh out of a two-year fellowship in advanced head and neck oncologic surgery and skull base surgery at the University of Pittsburgh. In other words, it’s a really strong lineup he has built. Dr. Terris has also recruited a Director of Research, Dr. Paul Weinberger, who is one of our own graduates! Publications have expanded tremendously, a mean of 43 annually. In education, we have moved from a one-year residency accreditation review to the maximum, four-year review, and last year we had 260 applications for just two first-year positions! In fact, Dr. Terris is now a member of the Residency Review Committee for Otolaryngology of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Of course, revenue, a reality in all our lives, has grown along with everything else. Meanwhile, Dr. Terris has continued to be a pioneer in his field of endocrine surgery. The best news is that he is staying with us to focus on the surgery and patient care that he loves so much and that brings patients and physicians alike to us from across the globe to get care and to learn. We thank him for all of the above and much more. As we mentioned last month, Dr. Terris is one of America’s Top Doctors. He is definitely one of ours.
A Commitment to Great Science…
And speaking of great doctoring and research and you pretty much name it, how is this for relevant and fascinating!? Our Dr. Ryan Harris, a clinical exercise physiologist at the Georgia Prevention Institute, and Dr. Katie McKie, who directs our Pediatric Cystic Fibrosis Center, a couple of years ago published the first evidence that young folks with cystic fibrosis didn’t have the same exercise capacity as their peers even though their lungs were still pretty healthy. Check that out here: http://bit.ly/1pcG3ip. That finding got a lot of attention and it certainly kept the attention of the terrific group we have here taking care of these patients. Well, Dr. Harris just got three grants to figure out why and, of course, eventually figure out what to do about it. You see, exercise definitely helps these patients live longer but their legs get weary before their lungs do. It’s a tough dilemma that the fine folks here, who have already worked so hard to improve quality and longevity of life for these patients, are determined to resolve. Dr. Caralee J. Forseen, Director of the Adult Cystic Fibrosis Program, is also part of this important and interesting effort. You all probably have heard of sildenafil, most likely because it’s marketed as Viagra, but also as Revatio for pulmonary hypertension. Well, this drug is known to relax muscles, improve blood flow, and even help other patients improve their exercise capacity. So this great group is using the drug to figure out if these patients’ real problem is blood flow. They are testing their exercise capacity, giving the drug, then testing again. While they won’t be using the drug to treat the problem – at least not yet – they think it is a great detective. They are also using a big dose of over-the-counter antioxidants and expecting pretty much the same response: this time reducing the nasty inflammation these patients experience and so improving blood flow and exercise tolerance. A lot more to this story, but the bottom line is this is another terrific example of the determination and ingenuity that define you. Our best to this group and the incredible patients that further inspire them. Check out this front page story: http://bit.ly/XYzv1A.
And To Others…
A lot of famous heads across our country have been soaked and chilled by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge this summer. This is the amazingly unique and effective summertime fundraiser by the ALS Association where brave souls get a bucket of ice water poured over their heads and challenge others to do the same or make a donation to this super-worthy cause. Last Friday, President Azziz took the challenge – check it out here: http://bit.ly/1qLR3bD – and yesterday so did the Chancellor of the University System of Georgia, Hank Huckaby, right here on our campus! See: http://bit.ly/VSSmcG. This was super cool by every definition. Flanked by our medical students and the ALS team, Chancellor Huckaby challenged us all to rally behind this cause. We certainly would be in great company! As of this week, the ALS Association has received more than $94 million in donations compared to $2.7 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 27). We just have to thank our Chancellor and President for being such great sports and great citizens. We thank as well, our ALS team, led by Dr. Mike Rivner, for their commitment to our patients and our students for having the courage to dump ice water on the Chancellor’s head! We also want you to know that our terrific ALS team has its own fundraiser coming up Sept. 27, a walk that will also help raise funds and awareness about this devastating disease, see: http://bit.ly/1pcGskH. Please note that you can make a donation at this site for the walk, the Ice Bucket Challenge, or just because, and the dollars will stay right here! Did you know that our ALS Clinic is one of only 34 in the nation certified by the ALS Association!?
Other big news on the campus this week was the announcement of our institution’s affiliation with health care information technology giant Cerner Corporation. This new, long-term agreement promises technological innovation while saving time and money, primarily in the important arena of health care delivery. That means great things, like always having easy-to-use, up-to-date electronic medical records, which is great for health care providers and patients and great for education as well since our students and residents will always learn on the latest technology. Our congratulations to Charlie Enicks on this new Jaguar Collaborative.
And the Future… Make this a Great Day
Speaking of a great education, last Friday, we held a program focusing on how those of us privileged to help educate our residents, can best do that important job. We had a bunch of folks participate who are critical to this process, including our faculty, residency directors and coordinators, administrative support and, of course, some of our residents! This was the 11th one of these annual gatherings that Dr. Walt Moore has led. He tells us he thinks it was the best ever and we absolutely agree. The content comes from what we all see and experience in the process of teaching and from what our residents tell us, both directly, and through an annual survey by the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education. This year’s topics included patient care transitions, where one team hands off the care of a patient to another. Dr. Mike Madaio led the panel discussion on this important point in patient care. It’s an inevitability of any practice so it’s super important that this be handled optimally every time. Dr. Moore rightly likens it to passing the baton at the Olympics. Unfortunately, national data indicates it’s also a point where many medical errors occur. Dr. James Rawson led a discussion on resident supervision that covered things like making sure both faculty and residents understand what “supervision” even means in the context of resident education. The net of that discussion was that there is no crystal-clear consensus so what should we do to get one? The bottom line was that, per everything, there is always room for improvement but that some of our own programs already reflect best practices in supervision so, per usual we can learn from each other. Another super interesting and important point of discussion was ensuring that our residents, in turn, provide a healthy learning environment for our medical students. Did you know that residents spend about 25 percent of their time teaching students? So interesting and so important to the total picture of medical education. Great job all!
And Tomorrow… Even Better
We close today with a brief but hardly boring housekeeping update. As any of you who have ever built a new home know, move in dates definitely do change. We wanted to share that as of right now, the move in dates for students into our new academic home, the J. Harold Harrison MD Education Commons, likely will occur closer to Oct. 1 than the Sept. 15 date we previously shared. But cool stuff like audiovisual and IT training has already started and our colleagues in Academic Affairs should be moving on in after (your!) Labor Day! The Grand Opening – and won’t it be – remains Oct. 16! We are super excited about our beautiful new home, which is absolutely worth waiting for. No doubt more to come!
Sept. 6 – GRU Day of Service. Sign-up online at: http://www.gru.edu/about/dayofservice.php. Deadline for registration is Sept. 4. T-shirts will be provided for volunteers, so please remember to indicate your size preference during registration. This year, volunteers will be treated to a BBQ dinner at 5:30 pm on the day of service at the Maxwell House on the Summerville Campus followed by the inaugural Jazz at the G performance featuring Joel Cruz with Karen Gordon, JAMP Master, and The Tandum. Jazz at the G is open to the public.
Sept. 6 – MCG Foundation 60th Anniversary Celebration in conjunction with the Alumni Association’s Augusta Regional Reception, 6 p.m., Augusta Marriott.
Sept. 7 – MCG Alumni Association Board Meeting, 9:30 a.m., GRU Health Sciences Campus.
Sept. 8 – GRU Health Sciences Student Free Clinic Kick-off and Open House, 5:30-8 p.m. in the Atrium of the Allied Health Sciences Building.
Sept. 12 – Fourth Annual Diversity and Inclusion Summit. 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Augusta Marriott at the Convention Center, 2 Tenth St. For registration visit www.gru.edu/diversity/summit/ or call 706-721-3967.
Sept. 22 – Presidential Lecture Series, noon, Lee Auditorium. Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, former University of Toledo President, led a vigorous process of growth and transformation to establish a new vision, a new identity and a new level of educational quality and excellence at the university. For more info visit gru.edu/president/lectureseries.
Sept. 22 – Sixth Annual Medical Scholars Research Day, noon-2 p.m. Wellness Center, Health Sciences Campus.
Sept. 29 – Fourth Annual Student Research Symposium, Athens campus, 4:30-6 p.m., Russell Hall.
Oct. 7 – MCG Alumni Association Regional Reception in Savannah, 6 p.m., Savannah Golf Club.
Oct. 11 – White Coat Ceremony, 2 p.m., Bell Auditorium.
Oct. 16 – Opening of the J. Harold Harrison MD Education Commons! More details to come.
Nov. 14 – Body Donation Memorial Service, November 14, 2014 1-2 p.m., Lee Auditorium
Feb. 24 – MCG Alumni Association Planning Committee, Nominating Committee, Board Meeting and Regional Event, starting at 2:30 p.m., Idle Hour Country Club, Macon.
March 5 – MCG Alumni Association Regional Reception, 6 p.m., Northeast History Museum, Gainesville.
April 17 – Raft Debate, sponsored by the MCG Alumni Association, 6 p.m., Lee Auditorium.
April 23-26 – Alumni Weekend.
May 4 – MCG Graduation Dinner, 6:30 p.m., location to be determined.
May 7 – Hooding Ceremony, 2 p.m., location to be determined.
May 8 – Graduation, 2 p.m., James Brown Arena.
Enjoy your long weekend!