Book Debut Has DMS Roots
Though patients' experiences often end up in papers for medical journals, it's rare that they play a role in a literary career. But not impossible. Several years ago, Catherine Tudish—then a member of the Dartmouth Medicine staff and now one of the magazine's regular freelancers—visited the Norris Cotton Cancer Center infusion suite to write a story about a patient being treated there. "I was given a tour of the suite and was particularly struck by the children," Tudish recalls. "Those impressions stayed with me, becoming more powerful with time, until I had no choice but to write a story about a child with leukemia. That story was published in Green Mountain Review and read by Nat Sobel, who is considered one of the top New York agents." Sobel took Tudish on as a client; encouraged her to build a collection of stories around that first one—"The Infusion Suite"; and found a publisher for the book—titled Tenney's Landing.
"So Dartmouth Medicine played a key role in launching my literary career," Tudish adds, "though it's much too soon to actually claim a 'literary career.'" Hardly. The book was just released by Scribner, and a review in Publishers Weekly called it an "eloquent, emotionally authentic debut."
The Birth of a Notion
Medical opinion in the U.S. regarding water births runs . . . well . . . hot and cold. As of 2001, the latest year for which figures are available, about 140 hospitals offered the procedure, but many did not. Dartmouth Hitchcock-Keene/Cheshire Medical Center strongly supports the concept and has done over 1,000 water births since starting a program in 1998. DHMC in Lebanon offers underwater labor, but not water births. In England, though, feelings are far from lukewarm. In 1992, the House of Commons passed a resolution that all maternity services provide women the option of labor or delivery in water. In a recent grand rounds presentation at DHMC titled "Water Births: Dolphins and Whales Do It—Should Humans?" Dr. Kisha Destin described complications associated with underwater births, such as neonatal waterborne infectious disease and cord rupture with neonatal hemorrhage. It's assumed that the rates of these complications are low, said Destin, but she noted that no large randomized controlled study has ever been done on the process.
Role Call for Mentors
It was unusual as student gripes go: these fourth-year Dartmouth medical students weren't belly-aching about their course load or bemoaning a boring lecture. Instead, they were lamenting, "Isn't it sad that really good role models sometimes don't get recognized?" Each year, the DMS graduating class picks two faculty members and one resident to receive teaching awards at Class Day, but these students wanted to show their appreciation for the many clinicians whose bedside manner and compassionate care they seek to emulate. "So then I said, 'Why don't we recognize them somehow?' " recalls Julie Young, DMS '05.
Initially, the group intended to honor just a few clinicians, but when they opened the idea up to the entire class, the nominations swelled. Not wanting to turn it into a competition, the students chose to honor all of the nominees—25 attending physicians, four residents, and one optometrist. "Thank you for your part in our educations," the students wrote in a memo explaining their Outstanding Physician Role Model Award. "Due to your efforts, we have had plenty of wonderful people who have shown us how to become 'good docs.'"
Teaching Techs in the Lab
There isn't a day I go home that I can't say I learned two new things," says Jill Polito. A technical specialist in DHMC's clinical laboratory, she's speaking to a group of University of New Hampshire (UNH) students who are visiting DHMC. Next, Polito helps the students gaze through a multiheaded microscope, so they can see slides of spinal meningitis and acute leukemia. Playing an important role in patient care by helping to make such diagnoses is what Polito "loves about being a med tech," she adds.
Polito was one of several DHMC technologists who met recently with UNH sophomores to cultivate their interest in the field of medical laboratory science. The two institutions collaborate to offer a degree in the field, with UNH providing the classroom work and DHMC the clinical training in a sixmonth internship. During the internship, students complete rotations in the four subsections of the clinical pathology lab—the blood bank, hematology, chemistry, and microbiology—and become integrated into the often hectic workflow. "'Stat' is one of [the students'] major words," Polito noted.
WELL-HEALED: The Norris Cotton Cancer Center ran a series of five Healing Tapestry workshops in April. Cancer survivors were invited to work with a visiting artist to create personal, expressive "tapestries" of textured, handmade paper.
WASTE NOT, WANT NOT: DHMC received one of only eight national Environmental Leader Awards from Hospitals for a Healthy Environment. The awards recognize efforts to cut waste, phase out toxic substances, and eliminate the use of mercury.
GOOD WORD: At the launch of the Transforming Medicine Campaign, word was announced of a new, anonymous $1-million commitment to the Center for the Evaluative Clinical Sciences, which is working to transform the delivery of care nationwide.
MUSIC TO THEIR EARS: DHMC is aiming to fill some nursing positions by offering an iPod digital music player as a signing bonus for new nurses. The nationwide nursing shortage clearly calls for unusual . . . well, measures.
A HELPING HAND: In FY04, DHMC provided $16.7 million of financial assistance to under- and uninsured patients, plus $70.9 million in care uncompensated by government insurance (mostly Medicare and Medicaid).
SUNDAE SCHOOL: Several times each summer, DHMC sponsors ice-cream socials that are open to all employees. Even better than the ice cream (with all the fixings) is the fact that it's scooped up by the institution's senior leaders.
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