January 13, 2021 | Volume III, Issue 1
LCME Accreditation Enters Final Phase
As 2021 begins, the Larner College of Medicine is entering the “home stretch” of its once-every-eight-year accreditation process by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). For over a year, all aspects the College’s medical education have been closely examined by an LCME Task Force and 12 subcommittees comprising nearly 300 members of the Larner community – including faculty, staff, and medical students. This broad group, led by Professor of Medicine and Associate Dean for Public Health and Health Policy Jan Carney, M.D., M.P.H., compiled extensive data and conducted a “self-study” analysis of the College’s strengths and areas of improvement – the findings of which will be shared with the LCME.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the LCME site visit to the College will take place online rather than in-person but will remain scheduled for its original dates of April 11 to 14.
To prepare for the LCME site visit in April, a mock site visit will be held on January 19 and 20. During the mock visit, experienced consultants well-versed in the workings of LCME accreditation will lead selected College faculty, staff, and students through a detailed examination, similar to what will take place in April. The process allows participants to gain experience in presenting information and will be used by the College to identify areas of focus for further work ahead of the official April online site visit.Image above: LCME Accreditation Update. Text reads “LCME Accreditation Update Key Dates: Virtual Mock Site Visit January 19-20, 2021, Virtual Site Visit, April 11-14, 2021.”
UVM Medical Center & Vaccine Testing Center Complete COVID-19 Vaccine Trial Enrollment
In just four weeks, the University of Vermont Medical Center and Vaccine Testing Center at the Larner College of Medicine successfully reached and surpassed the target of 250 enrollees for an ongoing Phase 3 clinical trial of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
More than 3,100 people registered to participate in the local vaccine trial, for which enrollment was completed on December 22, 2020. The UVM site was able to enroll nearly 65 percent of volunteers over the age of 65 – a critically important demographic for testing efficacy and safety and a unique, local contribution to the nationwide study. Additionally, more than 12 percent of participants identify as Black, Indigenous or persons of color. The UVM Medical Center site administered 284 individuals with vaccine or placebo, evenly split between men and women.
“We owe a large debt of gratitude to our community volunteers who participated in this important final stage of evaluation of this COVID vaccine with our research team at UVM Medical Center,” said Beth Kirkpatrick, M.D., co-director of the Vaccine Testing Center, chair of microbiology and molecular genetics, and an infectious disease expert at UVM Medical Center.
Pictured above: Cassandra Ventrone, a research technician in the Vaccine Testing Center, processes materials for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine trial. (Photo: Ryan Mercer, UVM Medical Center)
On Wednesday, January 20, at 5:30 PM the Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at the University of Vermont is presenting a lecture by Leon McDougle, M.D., M.P.H., titled "Slave Health Deficit: The Journey to Health Parity." The event is free and open to the public. Free virtual tickets are required.
Showing Up for Vermont Providers during a Pandemic
In response to Vermont’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 on March 7, 2020, the Vermont Department of Health (VDH) set up an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. hotline and was quickly inundated with calls from medical professionals and community members alike. Within a span of about 48 hours, physician appointments moved to telehealth, and providers were faced with myriad challenges, including new workflows, new technology, and reimbursement issues.
A regular partner with VDH, Vermont Child Health Improvement Program representatives, including Executive Director Judy Shaw, Ed.D., M.P.H., R.N., Professor of Pediatrics Wendy Davis, M.D., and Associate Professor of Pediatrics Breena Holmes, M.D., leveraged VCHIP’s CHAMP (Child Health Advances Measured in Practice) program to help share just-in-time and sorely-needed COVID-19 information with the pediatric and family medicine providers in their network and beyond.
“VCHIP is known for saying ‘how can we help?’” says Dr. Shaw, a professor of pediatrics and nursing who built VCHIP – founded in 1999 – to rapidly respond to the Vermont pediatrics community’s needs.
On March 13, VCHIP and VDH leaders met, and on March 18, they tested their idea to hold the COVID edition of the CHAMP call to push out information, while Department of Health representatives listened. “What transpired was just magical,” Shaw says.
Cancer Rehab Program Transforms to Meet Survivors Needs During Pandemic
Despite the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the resilience of University of Vermont Cancer Center patients and continued commitment of providers have led to a silver lining: a way to ensure patients in locations throughout Vermont and upstate New York are receiving the physical and mental health support they need right from the comfort of their own homes.
The Cancer Center’s Steps to Wellness Oncology Rehabilitation program, formerly located on Tilley Drive in South Burlington, includes a free, 12-week exercise, nutrition, and education program to support cancer patients during and after treatment. More than 1,000 patients have benefitted from the program, achieving outcomes such as better strength, weight management, and lower rates of depression and anxiety. “Graduates” of the program, who often continue after the 12 weeks, regularly comment on the tremendous benefits of belonging to the group.
Steps to Wellness co-founder Patti O’Brien, M.D., assistant professor of medicine, and Medical Director Kim Dittus, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of medicine, have long envisioned expanding access to this highly successful, medically informed oncology rehab program they launched nearly a decade ago.
“Steps to Wellness has become a key part of my being proactive in a quest for health,” says Patricia Johnson, a stage 4 cancer survivor and committed Steps to Wellness participant. Johnson began the program in December 2019 and was able to continue participating through the pandemic, thanks to expansion of the program to a virtual format. “You are not isolated and alone in this journey,” she says.
Join the Teaching Academy for the annual Induction and Award Ceremony today, Wednesday, January 13, at 4 p.m. Find the Zoom link to the induction and award event on the Teaching Academy website.
Pictured above: Graphic with background photo of snow-covered trees and white text with a dark green background. Text reads “2021 Teaching Academy Snow Season Education Retreat.”
Accolades & Appointments
The Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis (SABA) has selected Stephen Higgins, Ph.D.,professor of psychiatry and director of the Vermont Center on Behavior and Health , as the recipient of the 2022 SABA Award for Scientific Translation. The award recognizes Dr. Higgins’ use of behavior science principles and methods to address drug use and the intersections of addiction with other maladaptive behaviors and outcomes. SABA said that his “work in the science of drug dependence has made you not only a leader but indeed a standard-bearer in this area.” The award will be presented in May 2022.
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