June 11, 2019

Robust Family Medicine Research, Strong Residency Highlighted at Poster Day

By Amy Widner

The poster session featured 35 posters, including 20 projects by residents. Topics included residency administration and education, ethics, case reports, improvements in patient care, and research on medical conditions like anemia, HIV, COPD and chlamydia.

Event organizers were Shashank Kraleti, M.D., residency program director, and Diane Jarrett, Ed.D., assistant residency director and director of education and communications for the department. They said the poster session gave residents a chance to highlight the department’s strong commitment to research and to practice their presentation skills in a laidback environment at their home campus before showcasing their work elsewhere.

Doctors talking near poster

Family medicine resident Appala Suman Peela, M.D., facing camera, talks with faculty member Stephen Sorsby, M.D.

“Family medicine isn’t a field that’s necessarily thought of as a huge research-producing specialty, when in fact, our department has a lot going on,” Jarrett said. “So events like these serve a dual purpose. They show our residents that the academic projects they participate in are important and that others are interested in their results, and it showcases to the wider campus all the great things that are going on in our department.”

Kraleti said he thinks the emphasis on research results in better physicians and patient care.

“I have always believed that when residents do research, they take an extensive look at a particular topic and gain knowledge that they can use in their practice,” Kraleti said. “Research also gets residents thinking creatively and proactively about how they can contribute to improving patient care in their clinic and beyond.”

Doctors talking near poster

Obioma Nwaiwu, M.D., Ph.D., left, talks about his project with fellow resident Paige Beck, M.D., Ph.D., while his research partner, Brian Yuen, M.D., looks on.

For example, third-year residents Obioma Nwaiwu, M.D., Ph.D., and Brian Yuen, M.D., presented their poster on how to improve shared decision making between providers and patients for prostate cancer screening, especially given that new guidelines leave the decision on whether to screen up to the patients.

Nwaiwu and Yuen tried passive approaches like handing patients flyers in the waiting room. They also tried more direct approaches like calling the patient on the phone before their appointment and contacting providers to remind them of the new guidelines.

They found that the direct approaches significantly improved the shared decision-making process.

Doctors at poster

Research and Evaluation Division faculty member Lorraine McKelvey, Ph.D., left, listens to Program Coordinator Kisa Vaughn, MPA, near Vaughn’s poster on the Passion Project.

“What this tells us is that when you empower the patient, when you empower the provider and tell them about the changes in the guidelines and give them some of the statistics involved, then they can really talk about it and come up with the decision that is best for the patient,” Nwaiwu said.

These opportunities for resident research haven’t developed in a vacuum. The department’s Research and Evaluation Division (RED) started 10 years ago. The residency program has also developed a strong research and scholarly activity curriculum for the residents and the faculty. And across the department, Kraleti said the faculty do an amazing job on both their own work and investing time to collaborate with the residents.

“They are very strong and produce a lot of work, and the clinical side and research side are always looking for collaborations,” Kraleti said. “It’s paid off. We do posters and presentations nationally and internationally, and there are lots of publications. By the time we started thinking about a poster session on campus, it was well overdue.”

Crrowd shotThe first event was in the fall and featured 25 posters. Now in the spring, the event is intended as an annual tradition, and Kraleti said they may expand it to a research day with presentations in the future.

The Family Medicine program was also recognized at Dean’s Honor Day in the spring. Kraleti won the Residency Educator Award. Nicola Edge, Ph.D., won the Faculty Excellence in Research Award. Shalese “Fitz” Fitzgerald, M.S., won the Staff Excellence in Research Award.

“It was wonderful to see our research efforts in family medicine recognized,” Kraleti said. “Several of our faculty were promoted this year. We also have had a 100% board pass rate for our residency program for seven years, which puts us among the best in the country. We feel we have good synergy happening within the department, and we’re happy to feature it with events like this.”