Inclusivity key to Department of Medicine: RathmellJun. 27, 2022, 8:54 AM
by Bill Snyder
Commitment to inclusion, professional development, research, and clinical care was the focus of this year’s State of the Department of Medicine address delivered June 23 by Department of Medicine Chair Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD.
“Diversity, equity and inclusion is one of the core parts of the Department of Medicine,” said Rathmell, the Hugh Jackson Morgan Professor of Medicine. “This is a problem we solve by doing real work.”
During her first in-person address in Langford Auditorium since the COVID-19 pandemic began more than two years ago, Rathmell noted that the department is a nearly $350-million-a-year operation, with 984 faculty members in 13 divisions. Forty-seven percent are women, and 8% are from groups under-represented in medicine.
In a video presentation, Walter Clair, MD, MPH, vice chair for Diversity and Inclusion, and Jill Gilbert, MD, vice chair for Professional Development, described efforts to increase the involvement of women and minorities at all levels in the department.
Through efforts such as the Women in Medicine Initiative, which pairs junior and senior faculty members, “we begin to change the culture where people feel included,” Gilbert said.
“It would be a tragedy,” Clair said, “if we didn’t include that segment of the population that has been historically excluded, not as a charitable effort, but as a recognition that we’re leaving a lot of talent on the table.”
During the 2021-2022 fiscal year, 13% of the 20,000 patients admitted through the Department of Medicine to the hospital were treated for COVID-19. The department met the challenge of the pandemic by participating in a wide range of research and clinical initiatives.
Among them was an international clinical trial co-led by E. Wesley Ely, MD, MPH, that found baricitinib, a drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, significantly improved survival among critically ill COVID-19 patients who required mechanical ventilation or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).
“We do this well,” said Ely, the Grant W. Liddle Professor and professor of Medicine and Critical Care, in a video produced for the presentation. “We make discoveries, we design clinical trials, and then we implement around the world through our publications and teaching others a better way forward.”
On the clinical side, Rathmell said the department has greatly expanded the eStar Physician Builder program, and it is working to increase the utilization of Hospital at Home. In August, the department will begin providing primary care services at Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks to patients on eligible TennCare plans.
The meeting concluded with presentation of the 2022 Teaching Awards, and Vice Chair Awards for Outstanding Contributions to clinical service and research. Vice Chair Award recipients are listed below.
For Outstanding Contributions in Diversity and Inclusion:
For Outstanding Contributions in Professional Development:
Alexandra Shingina, MD, MHS.
For Outstanding Contributions in Clinical Affairs:
Claude Shackelford, MD.
For Outstanding Contributions to the Nashville Veterans Affairs Department of Medicine:
Todd Hulgan, MD, MPH.
For Outstanding Contributions to Resident Research Mentorship:
Brian Lindman, MD, MSCI.
For Outstanding Contributions in Research:
The State of the Department of Medicine address and awards ceremony can be viewed here.