University of Iowa Surpasses Harvard, Princeton as No. 2 for Writing

The University of Iowa, according to U.S. News & World Report is No. 2 for writing in the latest rankings. It’s the only public university in the top 10, behind No. 1 Brown University. It’s out in front of Harvard, Cornell, Duke, and Princeton.

Improve Your Sleep!

Listen to the IPR River to River Podcast episode from June 7, 2022 as host Ben Kieffer interviews University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics neurologist and sleep disorders expert Dr. Eric Dyken who explains sleep disorders and how to get a better night’s sleep.

Novavax Covid-19 Vaccine Gets CDC Green Light

The Novavax Covid-19 vaccine was approved by the CDC a few days ago. University of Iowa Health Care was one of the sites in the multi-site Phase 3 trial.

The vaccine is not based on mRNA technology; it uses a more traditional method similar to the flu vaccine, which is familiar to more people.

Exercise for Brain Health

University of Iowa research shows that exercise could help for protecting us against Alzheimer’s disease. After age 65, our risk for this category of dementia doubles every 5 years.

Even if scientists develop effective and safe senolytic compounds that could allow us to live to be 200 years old, that won’t be happening in the near future. There’s another way to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Exercise can lower the risk for Alzheimer’s disease, especially some form of aerobic exercise.

When it comes to exercise, any exercise is better than none.

Update on James Alan McPherson Park Memorial Plaque

Sena suggested we send a message to Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague inquiring about the proposed memorial plaque to James Alan McPherson, Pulitzer Prize winning author and longtime Iowa Writers’ Workshop faculty member.

I can remember only one other time in my life that I wrote a letter to an elected official. I wrote President Barack Obama in 2013, basically complaining about the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program for physicians. I’m not sure what I expected him to do about it. Like many doctors, I was frustrated about the regulatory requirements from certification boards. I thought they were unnecessary and burdensome.

I received a reply which was completely off topic and probably not written by the President. The letter from “President Obama” didn’t answer or even come close to addressing the concerns about what I thought was regulatory harassment. In fact, I never kept the reply and forgot about it.

But the email to Mayor Bruce Teague was different. We just asked about the timeline on the memorial plaque for the James Alan McPherson Park, which was renamed last year. The celebration and ribbon cutting reveal of the new sign was in early August 2021. The memorial plaque was still in the planning stage. We’ve driven by the park several times in the last year looking for it.

Mayor Teague’s reply came the day after we sent our message. It was definitely pertinent and to the point. McPherson’s daughter Rachel is still looking over the wording on the mock-up of the plaque, considering what to include. After her approval, it would take about 10-12 weeks to complete.

Now that’s a quick and specific answer from a political leader. Mayor Teague also sings.

The Kids to Decide on the Next Hawkeye Wave Song!

The new Hawkeye Wave song will be decided by the kids, and it won’t be just a single song. According to a story in Iowa Now:

For every home game the Iowa football team plays inside Kinnick Stadium, the UI Department of Athletics, in coordination with the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital Kid Captain program, will ask that week’s Kid Captain to help select a new song to accompany the Hawkeye Wave.

It’s a great idea! Back in April, fans were asked to nominate a song to be played between the first and second quarters of the Iowa Hawkeye football games while the team members and fans wave to the kids watching from UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

It’s up to the Kid Captains!

Learning About Monkeypox

The University of Iowa podcast Rounding@Iowa, hosted by Dr. Gerard Clancy, MD talked with Infectious Diseases specialist Dr. Jeffery Meier, MD about the essential facts about Monkeypox for health care professionals, recorded on June 2, 2022.

This podcast would also be interesting to anyone interested in learning more about Monkeypox.

Short History of C-L Psychiatry Fellowship at Iowa

I read a short article, “The case for pursuing a consultation-liaison psychiatry fellowship” by Samuel P. Greenstein, MD in Current Psychiatry (Vol. 1, No. 5, May 2022). After 3 years as an attending, he found his calling as a C-L psychiatrist, especially after getting teaching awards from trainees. But when he applied to academic institutions for position as a C-L academic psychiatrist, people kept advising him to complete a fellowship training program in the subspecialty first. He gave it careful thought and did so, even he called it going “backwards” in his career.

On the other hand, he believes C-L fellowships will help meet the challenges of addressing rising health care costs and improving access to what most people see as the critically important goal of providing access to integrated mental health and medical care.

I’ve been retired from consultation-liaison psychiatry for two years now. I get an enormous sense of achievement on the rare occasions when I hear from former trainees who say things like “For me you were…one of the most outstanding attendings I had at my time at Iowa.” And “I can at least take comfort that University of Iowa is still at the forefront of psychiatry.”

Several years ago, one of the residents suggested starting a Psychosomatic Medicine Interest Group (PMIG). This was before the name of the subspecialty was formally changed to Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry in 2018. I know many of us were very pleased about that.

I sent a short survey (see the gallery below the slide show) to the faculty and residents in an effort gauge support for the idea and readiness to participate. I used a paper published at the time to guide the effort, (Puri NV, Azzam P, Gopalan P. Introducing a psychosomatic medicine interest group for psychiatry residents. Psychosomatics. 2015 May-Jun;56(3):268-73. doi: 10.1016/j.psym.2013.08.010. Epub 2013 Dec 18. PMID: 25886971.).

You’ll notice on slide 4 one faculty member’s comment, “I think it doesn’t matter whether faculty are certified in PM.” As Dr. Greenstein discovered, it probably does matter, at least if you want to be board certified.

I was initially certified by the American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology (ABPN), but I objected to the whole Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program, as did many other psychiatrists. I eventually declined to continue participating in the MOC process. However, I notice that the Delirium Clinical Module that I and a resident put together is still accessible on the ABPN website.

Although response numbers were low, there was clearly an interest in starting the interest group. There was also an incentive to reapply to the ACGME for approval of a Psychosomatic Medicine (Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry now) fellowship.

My attempt years earlier had been frustrating. While it was approved, I couldn’t attract any fellows, forcing me to withdraw it without prejudice (meaning another application for approval could be attempted). Fortunately, that situation changed later. The Psychiatry Department at The University of Iowa now has an early career C-L psychiatrist who graduated from the reinstated C-L fellowship.

As the saying goes, “What goes around comes around.” Although the origin of that saying might have originated in the 1970s, at least one person thought his grandmother had her own version in the 1950s: “You get what you give.”

COVID-19 Transmission Level Medium in Johnson County, Iowa

The CDC has reported that the level of COVID-19 transmission in Johnson County, Iowa is Medium. It’s recommended to adopt appropriate safety precautions accordingly. The Swiss Cheese Model is an easy way to remember:

Swiss Cheese Model

Learn more about how to keep yourself and others safe.

Not Ambivalent I’m A Hawkeye

I searched the web for a picture of ambivalence and had a tough time finding one. The featured image comes close. The reason I’m ambivalent is because of a conflict I have about the Iowa Hawkeye football program, which is currently the subject of a lawsuit by former African American players compared to the University of Iowa asking fans to find a new song to accompany the traditional Hawkeye Wave, in which players and fans wave at the kids watching the game from the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

I think it’s a moving gesture. I’d like to formally nominate a new song. But I’m not sure I could call myself a fan, given the conflict between two principles: honoring the families with sick children, and also wanting a just outcome for the former football players suing the Hawkeye football program, alleging that it created a hostile environment.

I dislike bringing this up, mainly because I want to be fair to both sides. On the one hand, the former Hawkeye players and the Hawkeye football program somehow need to find justice. On the other, I really believe families love the Hawkeye Wave, and so do I. I’m very ambivalent.

I even have a song I’d like to formally vote for. It’s “I Lived” by OneRepublic. It was originally dedicated to children with cystic fibrosis and, when the music video was released in 2014, it featured Bryan Warnecke, a 15-year-old showing how he not only lived with, but triumphed over the disease.

I want the best for both sides of this conflict between ideals. I don’t know if I can count myself as a fan of the Hawkeye football program right now.

But speaking as a retired University of Iowa general hospital psychiatric consultant who once served as a colleague to the pulmonology specialists who called me to help care for the emotional and physical health of their patients with cystic fibrosis, a few of whom were living into young adulthood—they are Hawkeyes and so am I.

So, I’m voting informally for “I Lived” because I think it captures the spirit of what the Hawkeye Wave is really all about—kindness, generosity, and hope.

Featured image picture credit Pixabaydotcom.

Update April 24, 2022: I voted formally today for “I Lived” by OneRepublic. You can submit yours here.

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