Resident News

Dr. Tignanelli named Pope Clinical Fellow


Christopher Tignanelli, MD from the Division of Surgical Oncology has been chosen as one of three recipients of the John William Pope Clinical Fellowship. The award honors the best young physicians and scientists at UNC Lineberger who combine excellence in clinical practice as a physician and as a researcher in the laboratory.

More information on the Pope Clinical Fellows can be found here.

Dehmer Receives Robert C. Cefalo House Officer Award

October 2, 2012 -- Dr. Jeff Dehmer received the Robert C. Cefalo House Award at the Annual Meeting of the Medical Staff on Monday, October 1, 2012.
Dehmer Receives Robert C. Cefalo House Officer Award click to enlarge Dr. Jeff Dehmer

The 2012 award, named in honor of the prior director of the Office of Graduate Medical Education, was presented to Dr. Jeff Dehmer for his exemplary service to patients and their families, professional performance and compassionate patient care.

For additional information on the Dr. Robert C. Cefalo House Officer Award and a list of prior winners, see the Awards page on the Surgery web site.

Meyers Appointed Residency Program Director

August 20, 2012 -- Dr. Michael O. Meyers has been named the new Director of the General Surgery Residency Program, a position held for the last seven years by Dr. Mark Koruda.
Meyers Appointed Residency Program Director click to enlarge Michael Meyers, MD

Announcement from Dr. Anthony Meyer, chair of the Department of Surgery:

To Department of Surgery Faculty, Residents and Staff:

The Graduate Medical Educational Committee has approved Dr. Michael Meyers as the new Program Director of General Surgery. The transition from Dr. Mark Koruda to Dr. Meyers will occur on September 1, 2012 so recruiting for next year’s PGY 1 residents will be done with Dr. Meyers as the Program Director.

I want to personally thank Dr. Koruda for the decade that he has served as program director and all of the tremendous improvements that he has made in the General Surgery training program. It has been a period of great change in the requirements, structure and all of the other elements of surgical training from duty hours to complex case numbers, to many forms of documentation of resident teaching. His impact on the general surgery residents has been and will continue to be great and long lasting in their careers. Dr. Koruda will continue to help guide many residents on his role as faculty member and Chief of Gastrointestinal Surgery.

The General Surgery program is in excellent shape right now. The cumulative pass rate determined by The American Board of Surgery is 93% for residents who pass the written and oral exams the first time. This puts is in the Top 10 of surgical training programs in the country by this measurement.

Dr. Meyers has considerable experience in working with residents in the skills courses and with medical students on their senior Capstone Course. I have no doubt that he will bring new ideas and continue the excellence of the training program here at The University of North Carolina. Dr. Timothy Sadiq will serve as an Associate Program Director and work with Dr. Meyers and the faculty to look for new opportunities to improve our residency.

Please take the opportunity to thank Dr. Koruda for his remarkable efforts as program director and welcome Dr. Mike Meyers as the new program director in general surgery here at UNC.

Anthony A. Meyer, MD, PhD

Boschini Awarded Fogarty Fellowship

June 15, 2012 -- General Surgery resident Laura Boschini, MD, has been awarded a fellowship from the Fogarty Global Health Program for Fellows and Scholars.

The Fogarty Global Health Program is a year-long research fellowship that provides mentorship, training, and funding for living expenses, insurance, travel, and research efforts at the Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi.

Dr. Boschini is the second UNC Surgery resident to be named a Fogarty Fellow.  Jonathan Samuel, MD, received funding for his efforts in Malawi during 2009-2010.  Other residents who have helped establish a Surgery presence at the Kamuzu Central Hospital include Javeria Qureshi, MD, and Michelle Kiser, MD.  See their reports on the World section of the Surgery web site.

Dehmer Article Cited by Medscape Surgery

May 17, 2012 -- Medscape Surgery's news bulletin included an article penned by Dr. Jeffrey Dehmer on its list of popular journal readings by general surgeons.

The article, A Surgeon at Night, was published in the Jan. edition of Academic Medicine.  Dr. Dehmer is a PGY-4 with the UNC General Surgery residency program.

Abstract and introduction:

"Like many important lessons in surgery, this one came at night. Hospitals change when the sun goes down—mere survival becomes paramount. Particularly early in training, we learn who we are as doctors at night. The feelings of fear and confidence meld together. Unlike in the operating room, rarely is anyone looking over your shoulder at night. During the day, we present our best selves to our colleagues and patients. At night, though, we are tired and often our defenses are worn down.

Typically, we review labs and radiology studies prior to seeing the patient because it's more efficient. However, the emotional side effect is detachment. The patient becomes a sick colon that we'll have to remove. As residents, we rationalize our reactions because this practice optimizes the time that we spend on each consult. With so many patients to see and only 80 hours a week to do so, every second counts. The need is even more acute at night; we just try to stay afloat until our replacements arrive at 6 am.

One night, I was paged about a female patient reported to have the most holy and coveted of all nontraumatic surgical diagnoses—an acute abdomen. I rushed to review her CT scan, searching for any indication that surgery was necessary. Like a shark who smells blood, I was following the trail that led straight to the OR.

The case seemed innocuous enough. From her CT, the patient looked frail—not terribly young or healthy even before her most recent intestinal insult. Her internal organs all showed the signs of age. I felt so smart after my computer biopsy—ready to go forth and operate. She was another sick colon to me, one of many in a steady stream of cutting, dissecting, sewing, and ultimately learning.

The attending came in to see the patient. She is the type of physician who I would want taking care of my mother's, my wife's, even my own, sick colon. She simply talked to the patient. And I listened. The patient lived alone, albeit with much help from family and friends, so she was unwilling to do anything that would compromise her independence. Admittedly, when I saw her labs, CT scan, and finally her in person, I immediately thought, "nursing home." After talking to her, we chose not to operate. I never found out the details of what happened to her after that, an underappreciated side effect of night rotations. However, I do know that staying out of the OR was the right decision that night.

So much of our training seems diametrically opposed to restraint, to knowing when to stop. At times, it even appears at odds with rational thought. The gray area between the appendectomy and the Whipple, the gunshot wound to the abdomen and the aortic dissection, is where we learn how to be doctors. Those brief moments sitting on the bed and listening are what patients remember. They don't see the quality of an anastomosis or the empty right-upper quadrant anxious to receive a new liver. They see and hear and feel who we are as people when we talk to them and, more important, when we listen to them. At night, as the frenetic pace of the day slows, everyone— patients, families, physicians—realizes the toll that the day has taken. I learned that sometimes we all need to simply sit down and listen."

The full article is accessible on the Academic Medicine web site to those who are members.

Farrell Presented with ASE Outstanding Teaching Award

March 23, 2012 -- Timothy M. Farrell, MD, was recognized by the Association of Surgical Education (ASE) as the 2012 recipient of the Philip J. Wolfson Outstanding Teacher Award.
Farrell Presented with ASE Outstanding Teaching Award click to enlarge Drs. Tim Farrell and Pamela Rowland

Farrell was presented with the award at the "Celebrating Educational Scholarship" Banquet held as part of ASE's 2012 Surgical Education Week in San Diego, CA.  The nomination was submitted by Drs. Anthony Meyer, Chair of the Department of Surgery, and Pamela Rowland, Associate Chair for Education, with strong recommendations from his peers and students. The ASE Awards Committee annually selects those candidates who best demonstrate the qualities of an outstanding teacher, as follow:

  • commitment to teaching
  • expert knowledge
  • innovation
  • enthusiasm and stimulation of interest
  • encouragement of problem solving
  • ability to provide feedback and effective evaluation
  • role modeling of professional characteristics
  • accessibility and openness to new ideas.

For more information on this and other ASE awards, click here.

Garrison and Reid Win Kaiser Award for Excellence in Teaching

August 24, 2011 - Doctors Aaron Garrison and Trista Reid have been awarded the 2011 Kaiser Permanent Excellence in Teaching Award.

The Kaiser award was created by the UNC School of Medicine Class of 2000 to recognize those residents and interns who contribute in an exemplary way to the education of medical students with their enthusiasm for teaching, including students in patient care decisions, and promoting involvement of students in the medical team. For a list of prior winners, please click here.

-Victor Calderon, Department of Surgery

UNC Surgery Well Represented at ACS Resident Research Forum

July 18, 2011 -- Several general surgery residents participated in the Resident Research Forum at the North and South Carolina Chapters of the American College of Surgeons, held in Asheville, NC, on July 15-17.

Dr. Raeshell Sweeting was awarded second place for her presentation, "Intraoperative Electron Radiation Therapy Improves Local Control in Retroperationeal Sarcoma."

Other Surgery residents who presented:

  • Dr. Jeffrey Dehmer, poster presentation, "Experience and Opinions of 4th Year Medical Students in Acquiring Competence with Basic Procedural Skills"
  • Dr. Mark Joseph, poster presentation, "Use of a Hemodialysis Filter to Oxygenate as a Bridge to Extracorporeal Live Support: A Proof of Concept"
  • Dr. Shiara Ortiz-Pujols, oral presentation, "Burn Injury: The Challenge of Insufficient Facilities and Providers"
  • Dr. Shiara Ortiz-Pujols, poster presentation, "The Role of Bacterial Infection in Airway Inflammation and Acute Inhalational Injury"

Three from Surgery Honored with Cefalo House Officer Award

May 31, 2011 -- The annual presentation of the Dr. Robert C. Cefalo House Officer Award occurred at Tuesday's UNC SOM Spring Faculty Meeting.

The 2011 award, named in honor of the prior director of the Office of Graduate Medical Education, was presented to six house officers for their exemplary service to patients and their families, professional performance and compassionate patient care.  Of the six honorees, three were from the Department of Surgery:

  • Jean Ashburn, MD, General Surgery Chief Resident
  • Aaron Garrison, MD, General Surgery Chief Resident
  • Mark Joseph, MD, Critical Care Fellow

For additional information on the Dr. Robert C. Cefalo House Officer Award and a list of prior winners, see the Awards page on the Surgery web site.

Unger Presented Henry C. Fordham Award

May 9, 2011 -- General Surgery Chief Resident Joshua Unger was honored at the 2011 School of Medicine Commencement ceremony with the Henry C. Fordham Award.

The  award recognizes a member of the house staff for the qualities of patience, humility, and devotion to medicine.

See the full list of those honored at the May 7th event.