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AAIM Member Spotlight
How long have you been a member of AAIM?
I have been a member of AAIM since the fall of 2013, when I attended my first meeting as a faculty member in New Orleans. My colleagues, Drs. Andrea Cedfeldt and Sima Desai, graciously invited me to help present a workshop on promoting wellness in our residency program. It was great fun and a wonderful opportunity.
Describe your typical day.
The beauty and challenge of my job is that my days are highly variable. My days consist of some combination of the following activities: precepting internal medicine resident clinic at the VA; seeing my own patients in clinic; participating in PACT (patient-aligned care team); meetings with my VA medical home team; partnering with ambulatory leadership teams across clinic sites to create new experiences and enhance existing ones for the +1 clinic week, social medicine block and primary care track; meeting with one of my fantastic 18 linked residents or other residents interested in primary care or +1 week projects; organizing journal clubs or networking gatherings for primary care track residents; teaching in the +1 week (e.g., COPD and asthma in a case-based format) or helping coordinate educational activities in the +1 week; interviewing applicants; meeting with program leadership to promote innovation and improvement in the program as a whole; and generally promoting primary care internal medicine as a career and supporting residents in reaching their career goals and getting the most out of their residency experience.
What is your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part of the job is helping support others (residents, patients, staff) to realize some of their potential through teaching, mentoring, and clinical care. The residents I have the opportunity to work with are incredibly talented, and it is a joy to support and encourage them in becoming clinicians, teachers, scholars, and well-rounded people. Similarly, I feel incredibly lucky to get to work with the dedicated staff, colleagues, and patients who are humble and generous with their time, knowledge, and care in teaching me and our residents.
How has the AAIM membership been of value to you and your career?
I have become closer with members of my own institution by partnering with them to present and receive feedback on presentations I have done for AAIM. The sessions and conversations at the meetings as well as over the discussion forums are inspirational and practical. They inspire to me to be more creative in developing programs for our residents and to be a better mentor, clinician, team-member, and teacher. They also help address many of the practical challenges of working in academic medicine and within a residency program.
What's your favorite moment of your career so far?
It is hard to pick one. Co-creating and running a four hour communication skills workshop with a colleague, Dr. Craig Tanner, utilizing actors and including new faculty facilitators for all IM interns each year has been one of the best. Another contender would be a recent moment when I attended a patient’s funeral, a Vietnam Veteran, and realized the depth to which I would miss his friendship (and the depth of which he would be missed by his huge circle of friends and family). It was another reminder of how incredibly lucky I am to get to be invited into patients’ lives and be touched deeply by them and learn from them. Another favorite activity is meeting with my linked residents one-on-one twice a year – and then being able to attend residency graduation each year and present diplomas to them and meet their families. It is fantastic to see residents’ joy and happiness as they graduate and move to the next phase of their careers, as well as to feel a small bit of pride in having been able to accompany some of them on the path to realizing their goals. Seeing our residents graduate gives me incredible hope for the future.
What was your childhood dream job?
I was a voracious reader growing up and was determined to be a writer – initially, fiction, and then later, I considered non-fiction. In college, my goals changed and I headed toward science and medicine. Currently, I do not write very much, although am working on cultivating this habit again, and have been fortunate to learn new ways to incorporate writing into my life through advice and workshops run, many run by a colleague, Dr. Elizabeth Lahti, at OHSU.
How do you spend your free time?
I love hiking and camping. There is nothing quite as beautiful as a hike in the old growth forests in the Pacific Northwest, even in the wintertime, with rushing streams and waterfalls and amazing views. I also love eating in Portland, playing games (Taboo is an all-time favorite), reading, traveling, and spending time with friends, family, and my cat, Scrabble.
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I follow politics and have, at times, considered election season to be my version of March Madness or the NFL playoff season. I also enjoy history and consider Washington, DC to be a home away from home. Living and working in the capital after college was thrilling and a great setting to read one of my favorite books, Katharine Graham’s autobiography, A Personal History, about her time as the head of the Washington Post newspaper in an era where women were not in in leadership roles and she made tough decisions about publishing during the Watergate scandal and Pentagon Papers era.
The Alliance turns the spotlight on members to highlight how they are making a difference and how they have benefited from AAIM membership.
It offers an opportunity for you to share your story with your colleagues, inspire future academic internal medicine professionals, and strengthen awareness of the profession and association. Member Spotlight appears regularly on www.im.org and in AAIM Connection. To nominate another member or yourself, submit a name online or email email@example.com.
Katherine Iossi, MD
Department of Internal Medicine
Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine