November 21, 2008

New conference series to draw on Shade Tree cases

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Med student Alon Peltz, right, Morgan McDonald, M.D., left, and Julie West, M.D., background, were among those who took took part in the new clinical case conference. (photo by Anne Rayner)

New conference series to draw on Shade Tree cases

The Shade Tree Family Clinic recently named a new Vanderbilt University School of Medicine clinical case conference in honor of longtime adviser Lewis Lefkowitz, M.D.

The monthly series — dubbed The Lefkowitz Hour: Clinical Medicine and Patient Advocacy at the Shade Tree Clinic — will give medical students, faculty and house staff the chance to review a challenging medical case from Shade Tree, the student-run free health clinic in East Nashville. The event also will explore the socioeconomic variables affecting the care of uninsured and underinsured patients.

“This is a unique conference because the participants are so varied and the emphasis is clinical, personal and system-focused,” said Robert Miller, M.D., assistant professor of Pulmonary Medicine and medical director of Shade Tree. “We hope it will transform Vanderbilt and Nashville into a leading force for a more compassionate, more effective system for health care.”

At each conference students will be able to observe attending physicians approach a differential diagnosis, rather like the TV show “House.” Attending physicians will learn how students creatively use community resources to get patients the care that they need.

“We hope everyone present will have something to contribute and will come away with a learning pearl,” Miller said.

The conference honors Lefkowitz's strong and constant support of Shade Tree, said Alon Peltz, a second-year medical student and clinic co-executive director.

“His compassionate approach to patient care and his dedication for patient advocacy are an inspiration for the medical students.”

Lefkowitz said he has been able to fulfill his personal mission.

“Everyone should know how much it has meant to me to be a part of the Vanderbilt educational enterprise, and to share with my students, my colleagues, and the entire medical school family the feeling of the excellence of it all,” he said.

The conference is part of a larger curriculum project on compassionate care and patient advocacy in an underserved setting.

It was created in partnership with United Neighborhoods Health Services (UNHS) of Nashville, which sees patients during the day in the space used by the Shade Tree Clinic, which is open Tuesday nights and Saturday afternoons.