NEXUS OF NEUROSCIENCE
IN THIS ISSUE
The world has changed in the last year and we have been changed by it.
In health care, you often hear about “the next pandemic” and what that may look like or how to prepare. The way the last year has impacted our physical AND mental health has been different for everyone, but the new emphasis on mental health and its importance on your entire body will likely remain.
In this issue, we dive into topics like depression, research related to brain health and Alzheimer’s disease, how burnout, resilience and stress have affected our health care teams locally and how the Neuroscience Institute at SIU Medicine is adapting in this time of change.
Community activists honored at 2021 Kenniebrew Lecture
The son of a former slave, Alonzo Homer Kenniebrew, MD, was educated at Tuskegee University and was a friend, colleague and personal physician to Booker T. Washington. After relocating to Illinois, he persevered despite repeated roadblocks from the Jim-Crow world of the early 20th century.
Kenniebrew was the first African-American physician in the United States to build and operate a surgical hospital, the New Home Sanitarium in Jacksonville, Illinois, established in 1909. At its peak, New Home had 67 rooms, three labs, three surgeons and eight associated physicians. It served patients from 20 states and Canada. He founded the hospital because he could not obtain medical privileges at area hospitals.
Dr. Joia Adele Crear-Perry (right), founder and president of the National Birth Equity Collaborative, was the guest speaker at the 2021 Alonzo Kenniebrew Lecture, discussing “A New Legacy: Trust, Truth and Anti-racism in Medicine” via WebEx on February 9.
Dr. Crear-Perry shared her philosophies for improving health care inequities by fighting implicit biases and addressing the root policies driving the social determinants of health. “Everyone should have the ability to thrive, and we need to help those who are unjustly impacted to achieve it,” she said. “It will require a sustained effort from us, to be both the provider and an advocate.”
The following morning, SIU’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion hosted the virtual Kenniebrew Forum via Zoom. Dr. Ann-Gel Palermo, senior associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, moderated the discussions among forum guests. Both events were open to the public.
At the Kenniebrew Lecture, a trio of awards were announced to honor the groups and individuals who continue the groundbreaking work that Dr. Kenniebrew modeled.
Recipients of the 2021 Alonzo Homer Kenniebrew MD, Trailblazer Award are:
Teresa Haley, President - National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Springfield Branch.
Kelly Hurst, educator, speaker and executive director of Being Black at School
The Springfield NAACP has been a champion of equality and economic rights, working to eliminate race-based discrimination for Blacks and other people of color since its founding here in 1909. (The NAACP was formed as a result of the Springfield Race Riots of 1908.) In addition to its traditional advocacy in 2020, the Springfield Branch organized outreach and education to serve the most vulnerable populations impacted by COVID-19.
Kelly Hurst was recognized for her dedication and tireless efforts toward anti-racism, undoing systems of harm through her workshops, community forums, blogs and activism.
Erica Austin, deputy director of SIU’s Office of Community Care, received the 2021 Kenniebrew Equity Award.
Erica was honored for her commitment to promoting inclusive excellence within the diverse populations that SIU serves. Her nominator highlighted Erica’s character and collaborative nature, as well as her efforts to uplift young girls through in-school and after-school health education programs. More recently her coordination of mobile COVID testing clinics in underserved neighborhoods in Springfield has removed barriers to improve residents’ health and safety.
HSHS St. John’s Hospital, Memorial Health Systems and the SIU Foundation support the cost of the annual Kenniebrew Lecture and Forum.
Tischkau named chair of Pharmacology, MMICB
Shelley Tischkau, PhD, has been named chair of the departments of Pharmacology and Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology. In her new roles, she will build collaborations across the basic science and clinical departments, and with SIU Edwardsville. Tischkau is also working with leaders in Springfield and Carbondale to develop a biomedical sciences graduate program that will increase visibility and attract more students to SIU.
“Dr. Tischkau’s passion for research and educating the next generation of investigators is infectious,” said Dean and Provost Jerry Kruse, MD, MSPH. “She has great energy and ideas to keep SIU medical research moving forward.”
Tischkau joined the faculty in 2007. She completed a four-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) (1999). She earned her doctoral and master’s degrees in physiology at UIUC (1995, 1991) and her master’s and bachelor’s degrees in biology at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo. (1989, 1986).
Dr. Tischkau’s research focuses on environmental factors that influence the development of disease, including changes in circadian rhythms (sleep/wake cycles) and exposure to farm chemicals and industrial waste products. She has received numerous awards, including the SIU School of Medicine Academy for Scholarship in Education’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year in 2014.
Pearson Museum shines on PBS
Aspects of a LEARNER
MEDPREP Class of 2021
Photography by Yenitza Melgoza
Before enrolling in SIU’s post-baccalaureate preparatory program, Chicago Heights native Tiayrra Kirkwood was a caseworker for the State of Illinois.
What did you want to be when you were young? Even as a child, I knew I wanted to be a physician. I had a Fisher-Price medical kit filled with Band-Aids, a thermometer, a blood pressure cuff, and even a stethoscope! I loved going around playing “doctor” with my friends and family.
Tell us about your life prior to entering MEDPREP. I was a caseworker for the Illinois Department of Human Services, working 8:30 to 5. Those were the office hours, and it still was not enough time.
As caseworkers, we’d see a steady stream of clients, arguably some of the most disadvantaged in our society. It was my mission to ensure they knew that I was there to be of service to them. I felt privileged to be an advocate for the individuals and families I assisted. I’d listen and observe their needs, then provide targeted solutions to lead them on a path of self-sufficiency. The experience really increased my capacity for empathy. I see similarities in a physician’s role to help ease a patient’s health burdens, to increase their quality of life and overall self-sufficiency.
What do you love most about the program? Your career path?MEDPREP is such a supportive environment. Every MEDPREP student can be labeled as disadvantaged in some way, yet we are all in the same room because MEDPREP is our second chance at achieving our dreams. There’s truly nothing like walking into a building and knowing that every single person in there is rooting for you to succeed.
For my career, I’m glad I will be able to serve my community in a significant way. For many, going to the doctor is such an intimidating thing. I want to help ease those fears by building trust with my patients. Listening to them and their concerns, then taking that information and providing them with a treatment plan that takes them and their specific history into account.
What are your plans after earning your degree? I have not chosen a specialty yet. I want to remain open-minded to all my options; however, I do know that it is very important to me to serve marginalized populations. From my time as a caseworker, I know these are the communities and populations I feel drawn to serve.
What do you hope to accomplish in the future? I hope to be able to make a real impact in my patients’ lives by allowing them to feel seen, heard and understood. Far too often, patients are afraid to go to the doctor, afraid to ask questions. I want to provide a space for them to feel comfortable vocalizing their concerns so together we can find a treatment plan that best serves them.
This issue of Aspects highlights clinician burnout, wellness and resilience, among other things. What are your go-to coping strategies during this pandemic? My go-to coping strategy is to take a break. In this last year, we’ve all been glued to our screens for work and school and keeping up with current events. Constantly being plugged in can be very draining. So I say, “take a break.” Whether it’s a few minutes without looking at the screen, taking a quick nap, washing out your morning coffee mug or going for a walk.
Something else I like to do is schedule calls with loved ones. It gives me something to look forward to, and it reminds me that even though we may by physically distant, we are still very much connected.
What has it been like as a student this past year? To be a student this past year is to be resilient. It has been all about learning to adapt and adapt quickly. We students and our professors have had to learn to adapt together. On both ends of the classroom, we have learned to extend grace and understanding to each other because this transition has not been easy.
What advice would you give to young men and women who are struggling with their mental health amid COVID-19? First, I would tell them it’s OK to not be OK. Second, I would encourage them to find and hold onto joy when and where they can. Also, I will always speak highly of seeking professional help.
What’s your greatest passion? My “why” is a deep-rooted desire to advocate for and serve the underserved in one of the most intimidating spheres of our lives: health care.
Students get Match Day news
Photography by Sara Way
Students in the Class of 2021 have been through a final year unlike any other in the school’s history. At a critical career crossroads, they were hit with dual hurdles: The pandemic limited some of their hands-on rotation opportunities for medical specialties while travel bans pushed the residency interview season into an exclusively virtual realm.
On the plus side, remote interviewing lowered the costs and complications involved in the traditional in-person, exploratory process. Students could put their best faces forward in a virtual meeting from the comforts of their home turf. Conversely, interview slots for some of the most popular programs could be monopolized by a larger influx of candidates.
As spring approached, the students had all been vaccinated and were eager to experience a communal moment again. They asked Dr. Erik Constance, associate dean of student affairs, if an actual on-campus Match Day event was possible. A big “if” was COVID infection rates and the respective safety protocols.
On March 19, the fourth-year students filled every other seat in every other row of the South Auditorium. Dr. Constance called the classmates to the podium one by one to get their envelopes as friends and family members watched on Facebook Live. At 11 a.m., the students learned their future destinations from the National Resident Matching Program. And there was much rejoicing.
Two positives of note: Match numbers were comparable to previous years, and a large percentage of the future doctors will be staying within Illinois to train.
Match results also were announced for SIU’s residency programs in Springfield, based at the school’s two affiliated hospitals – Memorial Medical Center and HSHS St. John’s Hospital. Seventy-eight starting positions were filled. The first-year residents will join more than 245 senior residents and fellows already in training at SIU programs in Springfield.
Pandemic tests grit of health care workforce, support systems for physician burnout
By Steve Sandstrom
Last March, Vidya Sundareshan, MD, was on her first family vacation in more than a year, traveling to San Antonio, Tx., to attend her brother’s wedding. Sundareshan had been named co-chief of the SIU Department of Internal Medicine’s Division of Infectious Diseases (with colleague Vidhya Prakash, MD) on March 1.
The trip was a welcome break and an opportunity to tend to her own needs as a busy physician. However, her vibrating phone kept reminding her that multiple health care systems were preparing for the inevitable. The coronavirus outbreak that had been an overseas occurrence before the holidays had gone global, sending public health teams into overdrive.
On March 9, she and her family returned to Illinois. Hours later she was attending a joint meeting of officials from the five groups in the Mid-Illinois Medical District: SIU School of Medicine, Memorial Health System, HSHS St. John’s Hospital, Springfield Clinic and the Sangamon County Department of Public Health, where Sundareshan has been medical advisor since 2012.
Dr. Sundareshan would work the next four months without a day off.
As one of the region’s top infectious disease specialists, her knowledge and counsel were critical to preparing for the myriad of ways COVID could do harm. The long hours and stress she was about to experience would be relentless. But her experiences would not be unique.
Even as the pandemic stretches into its second year and vaccines are being deployed to turn the tide, fatigue and burnout are real concerns within health care. How we have adjusted and learned to cope with this new reality of constant burnout – one that weighs heavily on our physical, mental and economic health – is a study in resilience.
Some SIU Medicine colleagues have lost family members and loved ones, some contracted the virus themselves. The danger and fear were ever-present.
Another hardship was the inability to allow a loved one to be at the bedside when a patient was especially ill and could die. “It was bad for each family and it was bad for us, as physicians,” says Christopher McDowell, MD, endowed chair of SIU’s Department of Emergency Medicine. “You felt like you weren’t able to do your level best for them at that critical time. That was devastating.”
The fear of acquiring COVID and giving it to family members, loved ones or colleagues was common across campus. Dr. Sundareshan is part of a dual-physician family. Her husband is a critical care provider, so both had worries about being in contact with their children after returning home from work. There were 14-day stretches when her husband was exiled to the basement as a precaution.
Mary Stewart, chief operating officer at SIU Medicine, worried that she could bring something harmful home to her husband, and was forced to keep others at a distance. “It’s definitely made me appreciate my family more than I already did,” she says. “Not being able to see your own kids and grandkids was really hard. Facetime and Zoom are great, but it’s not the same as being able to hug them.”
SIU School of Medicine launched the Center for Human and Organizational Potential (cHOP) in 2019 to enhance the institution’s work environment and focus on employee advancement and wellness. When the pandemic struck in 2020, it provided an unexpected proof of concept for the center’s necessity. Susan Hingle, MD, associate dean of cHOP, had assembled the team that was now tasked with meeting the evolving, unprecedented demands of the pandemic.
Its members initially focused on ways to sustain connections across remote workspaces. Colleagues were trying to do their jobs from home, or were staffing frontline positions that generated a different type of anxiety. They began training supervisors for new dynamics that better managed scattered team members. And they shared personal stories from SIU staff in a newsletter and on the school’s intranet to give voice to many communal concerns.
Hingle says, “The pandemic made a lot of things related to well-being difficult. There was so much change. Protocols were constantly shifting. Human beings like to be in control and it made planning hard. We were glad we’d had a year to work together, meet with everyone and get our feet underneath us.”
Mental health studies indicate existing in crisis mode can lead to fatigue, depression and burnout. With COVID grinding on, experts worry that providers will shun necessary mental health care for fear of harming their reputations or ruining their careers.
SIU Medicine participated in an American Medical Association Caregivers Survey conducted over 6 months in 2020 that showed the scope of the nationwide problem. The fear of exposure to COVID-19 was high (62%). More than a third of those surveyed in the 85 health care organizations said they’d experienced symptoms of anxiety and depression as the result of the pandemic. Over half reported some symptoms of burnout.
Dr. Hingle says the medical school’s numbers were comparable to the national response, understandably.
We were told to sprint, and then to run a marathon, and in truth we don’t know where the finish line is. It’s now an ultramarathon.
The pressures and uncertainty impacted learners as well. Rukmini Roy, MS4, says, the pandemic’s stress was wildly different than the medical school anxieties that had come before. “Our future careers were at stake. It was difficult to accept that away rotations were canceled, classes and interviews would be virtual, hospitals were at capacity, and no one had any idea when this all would end.”
Compassion and empathy from those at the top was essential. The men and women in SIU leadership had decades of clinical experience to draw upon as they assessed the needs of students and staff in the shifting environment. Dean Jerry Kruse, MD, MSPH, Harald Lausen, DO, chief medical officer, and Stewart acknowledged the dangers and made efforts to relieve stress and reinforce safety throughout the organization. They redeployed some physicians and employees in new positions to supplement offices that were short-staffed.
They also recognized the additional needs of team members who had children learning at home while also working virtually. Flex-time and child-care options were expanded as the summer months began.
WORN OUT, BURNT OUT
For some, the measures were not enough.
Sacharitha Bowers, MD, assistant professor in dermatology, says a confluence of factors brought her down. The complexities of balancing multiple workloads — program duties, moving schedules, long hours, and keeping up with COVID literature — “felt like 150 percent.”
As the challenges of improvising at work became constant, a national upheaval in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor seemed to amplify the trauma. Bowers channeled some of her energy into racial equity activities that made her feel better, temporarily. Social media also provided both an outlet and a platform. “I wanted to empower others who may have been feeling similar angst and were afraid to express it,” she says.
But by the fall her tank was empty.
“It was a very tough year,” she says. “I’m a big proponent of well-being, but there has to be some space in your schedule to let it in. Every day was getting through the eight Zooms, the resident questions, the clinic work and then going home to take care of your children. We were in survival mode. There was negative space.”
She was experiencing burnout, a common problem among physicians.
Burnout was considered an epidemic before the pandemic. In the current era of electronic health records, managed care and increasingly complex systems and regulations, the problem has gained new prominence.
According to 2019 data from the Annals of Internal Medicine, burnout costs an estimated $4.6 billion annually in health care, adds to the worsening physician shortage, and correlates with negative patient outcomes.
There are a multitude of reasons for burnout. Many young people choose medicine because of an interest in science and the desire to help others. As these intrinsic motivators get eroded, it can lead to emotional and physical exhaustion and a sense of depersonalization.
Dr. Hingle has studied the problem, and cites other common factors: not feeling a connection to your work; workplace inefficiency / function (a primary care physician with a full-time clinic duty spends an average of two to three hours a day on documentation responsibilities, she says); the pay-to-play demand, when practices are based on the patient client load; and perfectionism.
“Physicians tend to go all-in on things and that is not always healthy, and it’s not sustainable,” says Hingle.
STRUGGLING IN SILENCE
There is also a self-imposed shroud of silence for fear of stigma. A recent report from the American College of Emergency Physicians found that 87% of emergency medicine doctors are experiencing more stress during the pandemic, and 57% say they would be concerned for their jobs if they sought mental health treatment. Hence many are not getting the help they need. Only 13% have sought treatment to address pandemic-related mental health concerns.
“If you’re struggling, you are often hesitant to say anything,” Hingle says. “It’s the biggest piece that we’re trying to figure out: how to get people to ask for help.”
Establishing the right culture is critical to talking about burnout and getting providers the proper care to begin healing themselves. Emergency medicine physician McDowell says his residency program takes a proactive approach to curb burnout, emphasizing the importance of finding a career niche or an interest beyond work as an outlet to help restore enthusiasm and the ability to relate to people.
We tell our residents there’s value in serving on a committee, or working outside the hospital, volunteering in the community. Find what your expertise can offer to another organization and lend it because you’ll get much more out of it in recharged batteries throughout your career.
The SIU School of Medicine Alumni Society board also is taking steps to combat workplace dissatisfaction. They have established a Physician Wellness Committee to explore ways to assist alumni, residents, fellows and students. In March 2021, a virtual presentation ‘Surviving Your Profession’ featured a trio of speakers — Drs. Michael Honan (’91), Loren Hughes (‘83) and Gwen Erkonen (’04) — discussing burnout, and ways in which physicians can recover when they feel their sense of purpose and joy waning.
Dr. Sundareshan made physician burnout the focus of her community press conference on November 22, 2020. “I wanted to help people actively look for it, recognize it, and call it out in their institutions.”
SIU Medicine’s support system could be a model, she says. “Dr. Hingle is great at keeping many of the people within our department afloat, checking in regularly and positively reinforcing the good parts of our jobs. She would share resources from the ACP [American College of Physicians] to combat the burnout we were all feeling.”
Identifying signs similar to post-traumatic stress disorder among physicians and staff as the pandemic winds down could help mitigate stress and burnout. But Hingle considers it half the battle. The goal isn’t simply to eliminate burnout, but to promote well-being. The ACP offered free counseling services to internal medicine physicians, she says, “but it was only utilized by a handful of people. So it’s not just about having the resources. It’s creating the culture where the people feel comfortable using them, with no stigma.”
Photography by Maria Ansley and Sara Way
Patients with Hard-to-treat Depression Have Options with Esketamine
By Sarah Kinkade
As a USPS mail carrier and mother of three, Tricia Duckworth began struggling with depression in her mid-20s. She felt tired, anxious and struggled to find a reason to get out of bed. As her symptoms progressed, she began seeing Karen Broquet, MD, a psychiatrist at SIU Medicine. Through the years, Dr. Broquet and Duckworth tried a variety of drug therapies to treat her depression. Ultimately, she was on the highest allowed dose of Effexor (venlafaxine) and could function on an interim basis. Unfortunately, the side effects were often as challenging as the depression itself.
“I was treated with multiple medications to try to quiet some of the anxiety and depression,” says Duckworth, 43. “I just learned to live with the suicidal ideas that kept popping into my brain.”
She tried electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), a procedure used to treat severe, chronic depression. It is typically used on patients who experience hallucinations, delusions or suicidal thoughts, after other treatments have failed to help.
At one point, Duckworth tried to kill herself and ended up in a coma.
“Some patients have suicidal thoughts often, but do not actually consider taking action,” says Dr. Broquet. “However, in this case, her suicide attempts were incredibly serious and she came very close to succeeding.”
Like many patients who suffer side effects, Duckworth had trouble trying to reduce the dosage on any drug because her depression and anxiety would return.
She would function day-to-day but it wouldn’t take much to trigger her into suicidal danger.
When the drug esketamine was developed as a nasal inhaler, instead of the typical oral pill, SIU Medicine physicians and their patients were part of a clinical trial to test the efficacy of the drug in 2017-2019.
Esketamine is different than the current crop of anti-depressant treatments. Most drugs affect one of three brain chemicals: norepinephrine, serotonin or dopamine. Esketamine impacts a chemical called glutamate, which is the most abundant chemical messenger in the brain. It’s an excitatory neurotransmitter, which means it stimulates the cells, causing the junctions between cells to become stronger and more adaptable.
Duckworth was not part of the clinical trial group, but in 2019, she was one of the first SIU patients to receive treatment after the FDA approved the drug for use in adults with suicidal thoughts/actions or with treatment-resistant depression.
“We don’t exactly know why it works yet, but we know it does work,” says Dr. Broquet. “Esketamine blocks the receptors, which increases the amount of glutamate available to the junctions. The current theory is that depression is associated with lower levels of glutamate. We think this increasing glutamate is what’s helping our patients with depression.”
“Esketamine is a miracle drug to me.” Duckworth says. She is now receiving only esketamine treatments for her depression and anxiety. “It’s amazing to not have to take a pill every day or to try to come off of those drugs ever again. I experienced a lot of withdrawal symptoms trying to get off of those drugs. I also don’t have the stigma of taking those pills.”
“For people with chronic depression, it’s important to remember that there are multiple new and different forms of treatment available these days,” says Dr. Broquet.
NOTE: Esketamine treatment is given through a nasal inhaler. It must be administered in the clinic, and patients are monitored for two hours after each treatment for side effects.
Dr. Sandra Lee POPS into Springfield
The star of The Learning Channel’s hit reality TV program “Dr. Pimple Popper,” Sandra Lee, MD, returned to Springfield in April to be the guest speaker at a Women’s Power Night to benefit Simmons Cancer Institute at SIU. Dr. Lee completed her residency in dermatology at SIU School of Medicine in 2003. She answered some questions for us prior to her visit.
We recently had Match Day here at SIU. Was your Match Day at Drexel [University College of Medicine] a “Yay!!” or an “OK, Illinois it is”? Very much YAY. I did a rotation with SIU Derm and loved it there. It felt like home.
Did your dermatology residency at SIU School of Medicine meet your expectations? Yes, I loved my residency. I had no family or friends around me, so the fellow residents and the attendings became my friends and family. I sincerely would not trade my experience and my training at SIU with any other residency program in the nation.
As a former resident of New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, what WERE your expectations moving to Springfield? I didn't really have any — I didn't know what to expect. I thought of it as an adventure and I was just so appreciative and lucky to be doing such a competitive Dermatology residency. I didn't want to let the program down and I didn't want to let my family down, and I wanted to get the best experience I could possibly get.
Was there any culture shock? Well, I certainly didn't know how to layer my clothing. I'm from California, so I just thought I could put on a big puffy coat over an untucked T-shirt when it's cold.
But I'm open to all experiences; I've lived in multiple parts of our nation. My family is from Asia -- Malaysia and Singapore, specifically -- and I've been lucky to visit many other countries as well. I am always very interested in other cultures, in other people and what makes them happy, what makes them tick. So it was a wonderful experience to meet the people who live and work in and around Springfield.
Did you embrace any Midwestern experiences while here in 2000-03? A state fair? A horseshoe? A 15-minute commute to work? I learned to waterski on Lake Springfield and experienced my first tornado warning. Personally, I think a tornado is worse than an earthquake. The fact that you don't know an earthquake is coming before it happens is really a good thing.
I lived next to a cornfield, saw a life-size cow made entirely out of butter at the state fair, and got my first cat while in Springfield. I’ve always owned dogs but I decided to get a cat so I wouldn't have to walk a dog in the snow. Usually cats are a little lower maintenance. My beautiful cat, Dim Sum, lived for over 20 years and she really was my partner, preventing me from getting lonely in Springfield.
Did you have a mentor or coach who helped you get acclimated? All the attendings at SIU Dermatology were my mentors and coaches. Dr. [Lucinda] Buescher, Dr. [Robert] Buzzell, Dr. [Jonathan] Goldfarb, Dr. [Stephen] Stone, they are all dear to me and really helped shape the dermatologist that I am now. They welcomed me as if I was a member of their families and really made me feel very comfortable living in a place where I frankly didn't know anyone.
Do you have any humorous faculty stories or clinical anecdotes worth sharing? The faculty loved dressing up for Halloween, and their costumes were always so creative and extravagant, with a lot of thought put into it. When I look back, I realize that many of them are younger that I am now and can’t imagine this big role they played in our lives at such a young age, but they did a fantastic job. It just increases my love and respect for them.
Any memorable derm cases to compare with what you now see on the West Coast? One of the wonderful perks about being a dermatologist is developing really close relationships with your patients. Sometimes they're sort of like social calls: They come to see you and you catch up and often times you get to know whole families.
Many farmers, being out in the sun for long hours, would develop skin cancers. I learned from them that human skin when it is cauterized (which is what we do to stop little baby blood vessels from bleeding) that this smells like chicken fat. So I guess we probably DO taste like chicken, as the saying goes. Wonderful salt-of-the-earth, hard-working people that make me proud to be an American.
Social media was in its infancy around the new millennium. Was you interest sparked during your time here? Or later? We’d love to hear the origin story that set you on your course to nearly 7 million YouTube followers and TLC fame. When I was at SIU there were no such thing as a smart phone. I had a flip phone. Yes, I am that old. And we had beepers and actually called people on landlines! All this Dr. Pimple Popper stuff didn't start until about six years ago, when I decided to set up an Instagram page and show a little window into my world as a dermatologist. Early on, I happened to post a blackhead extraction video, and it just snowballed from there. Crazy, isn't it?
You too can support SIU Medicine cancer research at forwardfunder.siumed.edu/project/19216
Kathy Brenneman, MD, ’85, passed away on Sept. 10, 2020. Formerly of Minier, Ill., she had retired as director of geriatrics at Providence Hospital and director of Carroll Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Washington, DC. bit.ly/3s8zjdr
Kenneth Hill, MD, ’02, passed away on March 14 in Peoria, Arizona. https://bit.ly/3gxXakQ
The Alumni Office moved from face-to-face events this past year to virtual events, and the feedback has been very positive. For many who can’t always travel and take the time out of your busy schedule, this alternative has provided a great connection online. We will continue to offer virtual events and when it is safe to do so, we will plan small face-to-face events. ►Keep current at bit.ly/3dczPmv
Alumni in southern Illinois will be hosting the first-year medical students for outdoor dining and conversation during the first week of May. We hope that alumni and students will make great connections after a year of virtual tutor groups. The students are excited to hear about medicine and community/family life from an alumni perspective. We thank our alumni for taking on this supportive role.
On March 4, Kriegh Moulton, MD, ’83, hosted a virtual evening of wine tasting with Whitehall Lane Winery of St. Helena, Ca. The event was conducted by Whitehall sommeliers, his son, Jason Moulton, winemaker, and Katie Leonardini, VP Operations/Owner.
A “Surviving Your Profession” Wellness panel discussion was held for alumni and residents on March 18. Lisa Wichterman, MD, ’81, moderated with Gwen Erkonen, MD, ‘04, Michael Honan, MD, ’91, and Loren Hughes, MD, ’83 as panel members. The Alumni Society offered this Wellness presentation on physician burnout to provide support, resources and discussion with fellow alumni. The objectives included understanding burnout, identifying resources and long-term solutions, and finding meaning again. The evening’s dialogue prompted more ideas that will be developed by the Wellness Committee to continue exploring this very important topic. bit.ly/3g3bW2z
On March 4, Kriegh Moulton, MD, ’83, hosted a virtual evening of wine tasting with Whitehall Lane Winery of St. Helena, Ca. The event was conducted by Whitehall sommeliers, his son, Jason Moulton, winemaker, and Katie Leonardini, VP Operations/Owner.
Jyoti Patel, MD, ‘99, hosted a healthy cook-along demonstration for SIU alumni on January 28. She believes that ‘Food is Medicine,’ emphasizing the importance of nutrition in health care for her patients and through community gardening activities in her hometown. In Dr. Patel’s series ‘Healing Foods,’ local chefs demonstrate garden-to-table recipes in the garden’s outdoor kitchen.
The SOM Alumni Society Student Resource Fund provided student study snack bags in March to help boost our medical students’ energy and spirits.