2016 Member Spotlight Archives
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December 2016 - Constance Zou, MA, BS, BA
Constance Zou, MA, BS, BA
Yale University, School of Medicine
Medical Student
New Haven, CT 

Biography: Constance Zou is a 2nd year Yale medical student. She graduated summa cum laude from Columbia with an BA in Biology and from NYU with an MA in Ethics and Philosophy. Prior to medical school, she facilitated the completion of three dozen research projects. She has published 9 times and her work has been cited over 600 times. As a medical student, she values the opportunity to listen, to witness and to engage. She hopes that through reflection and understanding of others, she can be effective in leading changes as she moves forward. Through activities she organized as the president of Yale’s Internal Medicine Interest Group, Constance provided students at Yale meaningful ways to interact with and to be connected to eager mentors who are ready to help them explore different specialties. Constance recognized the importance of building bridges among medical students attending all three medical schools in Connecticut: Netter, UConn and Yale, each of which have a different education philosophy. She submitted a proposal for an apple-picking event which received funding from the American College of Physicians and overwhelming supports from students from all three schools. Fresh apples were donated to residents at homeless shelter. For the past year, she worked with Dr. Joseph Ross at Yale’s Center for Outcome Research and Evaluation to evaluate the transparency and the responsible sharing of clinical trial data supporting FDA’s new drug approvals. The two completed projects shed light on the progress made to correct reporting bias in clinical trials. In her free time, she likes to host friends and family at her apartment for yoga practice. She likes to hiking in the wood while listening to audiobooks on history or medicine. 

What was your earliest ambition? 
I wanted to study at Yale when I read about it in the newspaper when I was 4-5 years old.  

What was the best career move?
Choosing Yale Medical School. It’s perfect for my development. 

Who is the person you would most like to thank and why?
My mother. She never tried to lecture me about what’s important and valuable in life, she just showed me through her hard work and her love. She’s the opposite of tiger mom--she simply enabled my pursuit to become someone useful for the society. 

What book should every healthcare provider read?
Art of War. How to win patient over by being observant, understanding and attentive. 

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Listening to music and painting imaginary skylines in watercolor, while having a glass of delicious red wine. 
November - Ronald Epstein, MD, FAAHPM
Ronald Epstein, MD, FAAHPM
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
Professor of Family Medicine, Psychiatry, Oncology and Medicine
Rochester, NY 

Biography: For over 25 years, Ron Epstein has been devoted to promoting physician self-awareness, mindfulness and effective communication to improve the patient-physician relationship and quality of care. Clinically, he practices outpatient family medicine and inpatient palliative care. He has developed educational innovative programs and published seminal articles on mindful practice, communication skills, the patient-physician relationship, physician self-awareness, and assessment of professional competence. Ron’s current research is on improving communication about prognosis and treatment choices in advanced cancer, and prior research touched on communication in the context of depression, somatization and HIV. He directs the Center for Communication and Disparities Research and co-directs the Deans Teaching Fellowship program and Mindful Practice Programs at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry where he is Professor of Family Medicine, Psychiatry, Oncology and Medicine (Palliative Care). A graduate of Wesleyan University and Harvard Medical School, Ron is recipient of the Lynn Payer Award from the ACH, the Humanism in Medicine Award from the New York Academy of Medicine, a Fulbright scholarship at the Institute for Health Studies in Barcelona, and fellowships at the University of Sydney and the Brocher Institute. He has published over 250 articles and book chapters. His book, Attending: Medicine, Mindfulness and Humanity, will be released in January 2017.

What was your earliest ambition?
It was to be a doctor. Through trying to make sense of my own childhood illness experiences I came to appreciate the multifaceted nature of illness and suffering, and with that a resolve to do something that would make a difference. It wasn’t a straight path, though. There were many twists and turns before I finally settled back into my childhood dream.

What was the worst mistake in your career?
The worst mistakes have come from not paying attention to the unexpected and letting people talk me out of what I knew would be best. These episodes have been rare, but memorable. 

What was the best career move?
The most recent has been to write a book. “Attending” is about to come out in print, and I’m very excited about it. 

Who is the person you would most like to thank and why?
First, my wife, Deborah, for all that she is and does. After her, there’s Marguerite Britton, my 5th grade teacher. By running her classroom as a free and democratic state, she demonstrated that the gems of knowledge can be found within oneself, not only from the assimilation of facts and ideas. Her classroom was an essay in creative anarchy, inspiring her students and exasperating the school principal. 

What book should every healthcare provider read?
A Fortunate Man, by John Berger and Jean Mohr. It speaks to the soul.

How would you spend your favorite day?
Experiencing at least one moment of exquisite beauty. This is most likely to happen when cross-country skiing in fresh snow, playing a Bach suite on the harpsichord, cooking for cherished friends, and writing, but there are endless surprises.

Where are you the happiest?
Inner happiness comes when I feel a deep sense of purpose, an inner balance, and a connection to humanity; shared happiness comes when I celebrate important events with my family, the achievements of my students and just being with my friends. 

October - Richard Schifeling MD, FACP
Richard Schifeling MD, FACP
Jacobs School of Medicine, State University of New York at Buffalo
Attending Physician, Primary Medicine Center, Buffalo General Medical Center, Associate Program Director, SUNY at Buffalo Internal Medicine Residency Program
Buffalo, New York 

Biography: Richard Schifeling is a primary care physician practicing in a teaching hospital.  For thirty years I did both inpatient and outpatient service and teaching, but recently I’ve moved into ambulatory care exclusively.  We work with medical students from second to fourth year, and our internal medicine residents.  I’ve always told my learners that I emphasize doctor-patient relations and evidence-based medicine, and advocate for the importance and inter-relationship of both.  I owe a lot of my interest in these topics to the ACH and national skills meetings where I got to work with Richard Frankel, Penny Williamson and William Branch, among many others.

What was your earliest ambition?

I loved the TV show, Maverick, and wanted to be a gambler.

What was the worst mistake in your career?
Fairly early in my career, I offered someone a job who accepted, but then I was pressured to rescind the offer, and have felt terrible about this ever since.

What was the best career move? 
Taking a teaching job when I finished my National Health Service obligation, as opposed to going into private practice or working for an HMO.

Who is the person you would most like to thank and why?   
The usual people, my parents, my brothers, my wife and our two sons and now three grandchildren, but also Henry Aaron who was my idol throughout my childhood, and an example of grace, outstanding performance and quiet determination as a baseball player.

What is your guiltiest pleasure? 
Eating peanut butter before going to bed.

How would you spend your favorite day?

I love to run, and I love our national parks, so I would run a long way in a beautiful park, go for some walks and have dinner and celebrate with my wife and family.

Where are you the happiest?
We have a wooded property south of Buffalo, where you can’t see or hear anyone else, just exist.

September - Betty Chewning, PhD
Betty Chewning, PhD
University of Wisconsin School of Pharmacy
Professor and Director of the Sonderegger Research Center
Madison, WI

Biography: Betty Chewning is Apple Professor and Director of the Sonderegger Research Center at the University of Wisconsin School of Pharmacy.  Her research and teaching seeks to improve partnerships between patients and health care providers through improved communication and to help new researchers believe in themselves.  Her randomized controlled trials test the impact of various interventions on observed patient and provider communication as well as health outcomes. She has long worked with diverse stakeholders (patients, inner city adolescents, tribal communities, older adults) to inform her intervention studies to enhance patient and public health outcomes. In her teaching she draws on Piaget’s Discovery Learning framework to create supportive environments where students can explore, practice and learn from their experiences with the help of patients and peers.  Her pharmacy students weekly tape their interactions with standardized patients and supportively help each other grow as they review their tapes together.  She believes listening skills, compassion and curiosity are by far the most important qualities of a good communicator and educator. 

What poem, song, or passage of prose would you like mourners to hear at your funeral?
 “Imagine” by John Lennon

What is your guiltiest pleasure?  
Reading feminist science fiction and fantasy books

Summarize your personality in three words:  
Passionate, creative, tenacious

How would you spend your favorite day?  
Playing Irish music with my band at the Malt House featuring my daughter singing

Where are you the happiest?  
I am happiest sitting on a rock by the lake, watching the shadows through the willow tree and the seagulls flying
August - Sean M. Phelan, PhD, MPH
Sean M. Phelan, PhD, MPH
Mayo Clinic
Assistant Professor
Rochester, MN

Biography: Sean Phelan is an Assistant Professor of Health Services Research and a Career Scientist in the Division of Health Care Policy and Research at Mayo Clinic.  He studies the impact of stigma on group disparities in patient-centered care.  Guided by a fundamental belief that high-quality, respectful, and patient-focused care is a basic human right, he focuses on research to improve the care experiences of people who are members of stigmatized and marginalized groups, including individuals with obesity or disability, sexual minorities, and underserved communities.  

What was your earliest ambition?
I wanted to work in construction as a kid.  Playing in the dirt with big loud trucks was very appealing to 5 year old me.

What was the best career move?
Three career choices come to mind – The first was studying something I am passionate about.  The second was seeking out accomplished and dedicated mentors who have helped open a lot of doors for me.  Finally, developing relationships with an amazing network of collaborators across institutions and disciplines has been very rewarding.  

Who is the person you would most like to thank and why?
That’s easy.  My wife, Sarah.  She supported me (emotionally and financially) through grad school, and she challenges me and inspires me every day.

What book should every healthcare provider read?
I recommend any book that puts you in another person’s shoes, and lets you see their world and connect with their experiences emotionally as well as intellectually.  Empathy is so important in healthcare and it is a trait and a skill that can be strengthened through practice.  Stories about an author’s own experiences have had the most influence on my worldview.  Most recently, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates opened my eyes to a new perspective, but there have been so many others.

What poem, song, or passage of prose would you like mourners to hear at your funeral?
Johnny Cash’s version of We’ll Meet Again.  

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Honestly, conferences.  I love my kids more than anything in the world, but I guiltily look forward to getting away for a few days, meeting with treasured colleagues I rarely get to see, eating good food, and not arguing with anyone over bedtimes.

How would you spend your favorite day?
It would include art galleries and antique stores, and really good food and wine with old friends.

Where are you the happiest?
Anyplace new.  I love to travel, and I’m happiest wandering aimlessly around someplace I’ve never been. 
July - Glyn Elwyn, MD, MSc, FRCGP, PhD
Glyn Elwyn, MD, MSc, FRCGP, PhD
The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice
Hanover, NH

Biography: Glyn Elwyn BA MD MSc PhD is a tenured professor and physician-researcher at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice, USA. He studied medicine in the United Kingdom and did his doctorate with Professor Richard Grol in the Netherlands. He leads an interdisciplinary team that studies shared decision making. His main focus is to understand the impact of Option Grids decision aids ®, evidence-based tools to foster better conversations. He developed the Observer OPTION and CollaboRATE measures of shared decision making. Twitter: @glynelwyn

What was the best career move?
The best career decision was to work with Professor Richard Grol in Nijmegen, in the Netherlands. He was a hard taskmaster while being a truly generous mentor. He tried to make sure that I became a critical scientist rather than a motivated advocate. He opened doors, which is what good mentors will do. 

What book should every healthcare provider read? 
The Prince, by Niccolo Machiavelli. It is one of the most insightful books into human motives and behavior. It deals, although tangentially, with the challenge of relationships which have power differentials. 

Where are you the happiest?
When there is clean data, and time to think and to write. I am also very happy making things out of wood. It is an old tradition in my family – carpentry. It boils down to being creative. To making things or making things happen. Articles, books, cupboard, bench. Nothing quite as practical as a good theory, or a straight plank of wood. 
June - Orit Karnieli-Miller, PhD
Orit Karnieli-Miller, PhD 
Tel Aviv University 
Senior Lecturer (Assistant Professor) 
Kiriat Tivon, Israel

Biography: Orit Karnieli-Miller, PhD is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Medical Education at the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, Israel.  She is a social worker in training with specialty in communication in healthcare.  She focuses through research and teaching on complex communication challenges of diagnostic disclosure ("breaking bad news”), handling multi-participant conversations (patient-physician-companion), implementing shared decision-making in medical practice, and professionalism in medical school training.  

What was the best career move?
The best decisions in my career were - following my heart to study communication in healthcare, a topic I am passionate about, and that has implications in people's lives; being lucky enough to join significant mentors' who guided me, taught me, cared about me, like Prof. Eisikovits, Prof. Eidelman, Prof. Frankel and Prof. Inui; and focusing on qualitative research that connected me and allowed me to better understand people, situations, dynamics, and relationships. 

Who is the person you would most like to thank and why? Person?
Persons… I have been very lucky so far. To have parents who love and support me and my growth, a mother who is an educator and a father who is a physician. To have a husband that provides me the space and support to commit to a demanding career. To my wonderful mentors, Phd Supervisor Prof. Eisikovits, Friend and colleague Prof Eidelman, Post doc and life mentors Drs. Frankel and Inui, and the smart, kind, generous and caring people along the way.  

Where are you the happiest?
Professionally when I analyze qualitative data with a colleague or student and experience the ability to learn more about the world of healthcare communication and relationships. Personally when I am having a significant conversation with a friend and our kids are near us, playing together and enjoying. Yes… I like to achieve at least two things at the same time:)
May - Judy C. Chang, MD, MPH
Judy C. Chang, MD, MPH
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Associate Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences and Internal Medicine; Assistant Dean of Medical Student Research
Pittsburgh, PA

Biography: Judy Chang is a gynecologist and a women’s health services researcher at the University of Pittsburgh. Her passion is to ensure that humanism remains a core component of medicine, health, and health care. In pursuit of this, Judy performs research on patient-provider communication in obstetrics and women’s health and facilitates workshops teaching medical students, residents, and other health providers communication skills. Much of her research focuses on challenging issues such as intimate partner violence, perinatal substance use, and mental health. Her work often uses community-based participatory research strategies and qualitative methods. She teaches a course on qualitative methods and advices students in the pursuit of scientific inquiry as an Assistant Dean of Medical Student Research. At all levels—for providers and patients, in education and clinical practice—she emphasizes the centrality of empathy, space, and safety.

What was your earliest ambition?  
As a child, I remember cycling through a variety of careers whenever asked the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Interestingly, I do not recall that being a doctor was among the first set—those were actress, dancer, news reporter. I do remember, though, that when I fantasized about what type of super powers I would want if I could become a super hero—I really thought the most compelling would be the ability to heal.

What was the best career move?
For me, my best career move pursuing training in health services and public health research after residency. While I loved the practice of both obstetrics and gynecology and loved caring for patients, I recognized fairly early in residency that I needed an additional outlet for my constant curiosity and questioning regarding why we practiced the way we did and how we could make this better. I also need to feed the social activist within me and by ensuring that I would be active on complicated and complex social issues such as domestic violence, mental illness and addiction. Choosing a career path as a health services researcher with a focus on patient-provider communication research was the absolute best thing I did—this allowed me to circle back to my liberal arts roots and incorporate all of my passions and skills.

What poem, song, or passage of prose would you like mourners to hear at your funeral?
Passage from the Little Prince: “All men have stars, but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems... But all these stars are silent. You-You alone will have stars as no one else has them... In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars will be laughing when you look at the sky at night..You, only you, will have stars that can laugh! And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me... You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure... It will be as if, in place of the stars, I had given you a great number of little bells that knew how to laugh”

Summarize your personality in three words
Loving, optimistic, determined

Where are you the happiest?
Anywhere surrounded by wonderful people, loved friends/family, or beautiful scenery.
April - William T Branch, JR., MD, MACP, FACH
William T Branch, Jr., MD, MACP, FACH
Emory University School of Medicine
Carter Smith, Sr. Professor of Medicine 
Atlanta, GA


Bill Branch majored in English at Vanderbilt University where he developed an interest in writing. He attended medical school at the University of Alabama in Birmingham followed by residency at Brigham and Womens Hospital (BWH) (then Peter Bent Brigham) and national service at the NIH. He joined the faculty at BWH and was asked to organize and direct the Primary Care Residency Program in 1974. Bill attended the first Medical Interviewing Course in 1982. At the Course, patient/doctor relationships became his passion.  Consequently, in 1985, Bill joined Harvard Medical School's New Pathway Project and for 7 years directed its required 3-year Patient/Doctor course. At Emory, Bill directed the Division of General Medicine for 17 years and now devotes himself to research, teaching and his small outpatient practice. He became an ACH Facilitator in 1988, co-directed the national course for the next 4 years, then was President of ACH (2007-09). Bill's greatest rewards have been mentoring 4 FIT's and numerous members in his Emory Division. Many now lead Emory's educational programs. His greatest pleasures currently include working with the leaders of his collaborative faculty development programs, which have or are running at over 30 medical schools; and most importantly, being with his wife, Carolyn, daughter and son-in law, Kate and Mike Browne, and granddaughter, Carolyn II, pictured here. 

What was your earliest ambition?
To attend West Point and serve in the Army (age 6). 

What was your worst career mistake?
Mostly they turned out well, especially going into primary care, which was a mysterious decision to me till I discovered ACH. 

What was your best career move?
All were good in their time but would have been terrible if done too soon. 

What poem, song, or passage of prose would you like mourners to hear at your funeral?
I'm a lover of modernism (Rothko, Frank Lloyd Wright) and especially the 1970's, poetry by Lowell (My Last Afternoon with Uncle Devereux Winslow) and Bishop (Sandpiper, The Moose); fiction by Bellow (Hertzog, Humboldt's Gift), and earlier, the British series, The Forsythe Saga by John Galsworthy, which reminds me of the strivings and ups and downs emotional and otherwise of my extended family heritage.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
I've given it up: fine food, especially desserts. 

How would you spend your favorite day?
Once would have been fishing on the Gulf with my father-in-law, playing tennis with my father, duck hunting with my old high school friends and brother-in-law, engaging in a great PA group; maybe now completing the draft of a great paper, Thanksgiving dinner with mine and my brothers' families, a great day of rounding for 6 hours with my team at Grady. 
March - Rich Frankel, Ph.D.
Rich Frankel Ph.D.
Indiana University School of Medicine/ Cleveland Clinic
Professor of Medicine and Geriatrics /Staff, Cleveland Clinic Education Institute 

Rich is professor of medicine and geriatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine and is the director of the Mary Margaret Walther Program in Palliative Care at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center. He is also a staff member in the Education Institute at the Cleveland Clinic.

He is trained as a qualitative health services researcher whose interests include face-to-face communication, the role of technology and their effects on quality, safety, and outcomes of care. In addition to his health services research interests, Rich has been a medical educator for the past 35 years. He was the co- director of the internal medicine residency program at Highland Hospital/University of Rochester and also served as co-director of the Program and Fellowship in Advanced Biopsychosocial Medicine. From 2003-2013, he was been the statewide director of Indiana University School of Medicine’s professionalism competency and responsible for both curriculum and remediation in this arena.  To date, he has published more than 225 scientific papers and edited 7 books. 

Rich completed his undergraduate studies at Colgate University and obtained a PhD in sociology at the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York. He completed postdoctoral training at Boston University and was a Fulbright Research Fellow in Uppsala, Sweden. He is also a founding Fellow of the Academy of Communication in Healthcare and is the recipient of the George Engel award and co-recipient (with Howard Beckman) of the Lynn Payer Award. 

Rich enjoys biking, digital photography and collecting 18th and 19th century antiquarian books and prints.

What was your earliest ambition?
To play the banjo like Earl Scruggs

What was the best career move?
Moving to Indiana and meeting my wife

Who is the person you would most like to thank and why?
My parents for instilling a sense of curiosity and wonder in me and also a strong sense of social responsibility

What book should every healthcare provider read?
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

What poem, song, or passage of prose would you like mourners to hear at your funeral?
Imagine by John Lennon sung by Joan Baez

What is your guiltiest pleasure?  
Prowling through antiquarian bookstores.

Summarize your personality in three words. 
 All-around nice guy

How would you spend your favorite day?  
Walking in the woods or by the seaside with my wife.

Where are you the happiest?  
Mostly wherever I am
January - Elizabeth Ross, PT, DPT, MMSc
Elizabeth Ross, PT, DPT, MMSc
Associate Consulting Professor
Duke University Medical Center
Durham, NC


Elizabeth Ross is a Doctor of Physical Therapy(DPT) on the faculty at Duke University.  Her passion for communication, education and interprofessional collaboration coalesce in her course directorship and instruction in the DPT, the School of Medicine and a newly offered Masters of Biomedical Science for pre-health professionals at Duke University.  She thrives on the combination of humanities and medicine which in her estimation provide the best care for patients and the souls of their providers.  She has an unquenchable thirst for learning to communicate better, stories of professionals and patients and the humanities that reflect meaning in life.  She strives to live a happy life.

What was your earliest ambition?
I wanted to be a French teacher but there were few positions in education at that time, so I landed in physical therapy which involves teaching, connection and helping people in a profound, one-on-one manner.  It is not a far path from this early ambition to my very fulfilling career of educating health professionals about the most meaningful ways to communicate.

What was the worst mistake in your career?
I don’t really think that way.  I don’t believe anything that brought me to where I am is a mistake.  Each experience I have had has taught me about myself and others, and developed me into who I am.  If I had to say anything, I would say not asserting myself for the appropriate compensation I deserved for work I did.  But in truth, I do this work because it fulfills me, not for tangible rewards.

What was the best career move?
Listening to my inner voice, being true to it and “following the thread”.  I recognized the parts of my work that truly resonated with me….communication, the meaning of illness and seeing others as individual, holistic human beings with their own stories…and I followed that interest which grew to a passion.  I am still following that thread (which led me to ACH) and I am loving the journey.

Who is the person you would most like to thank and why?
That’s easy.  My husband has enabled me to become the most authentic version of myself.  What a gift, to have my life partner support my growth in such a loving way.  He is always behind me and he is a very accomplished physician in his own right.

What book should every healthcare provider read?
There are so many books that provide insights and support that healthcare professionals need to access.  The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Tolstoy (to remember how vulnerable we all are in illness and death); What Doctors Feel by Danielle Ofri (to remember that healthcare professionals need to acknowledge their own humanity) and Treatment Kind and Fair by Perri Klass (to remember what it was like to be embarking on these professions) 

What poem, song, or passage of prose would you like mourners to hear at your funeral?
It seems like a funeral is a “surprise party” for the person who has died.  Everyone there has a connection to the person and it feels as if that person is about to walk in and we will all celebrate with the person.  For that reason, I have a letter incubating in my head that I will leave to be read at my funeral, so that I will be “present” and thank everyone for making my life so special and meaningful to me.  I am just so grateful for this life I have had.  Music is very evocative to me…so I would like to have the gentle passage from “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” (Variation #18) by Rachmaninoff played at that time.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Staying in my pajamas all day, eating a chocolate molten cake and watching old movies and romantic comedies

Summarize your personality in three words
Positive, passionate, devoted

What is your pet hate?
Judgmental attitudes and inability to accept differences without judgment

How would you spend your favorite day?
I would be in Paris with my husband on a beautiful spring day, walking the streets, visiting the museums, sipping coffee at a café while people watching, hearing and conversing in French and eating fabulous food.

Where are you the happiest?
Professionally, I am the happiest working with students….teaching in front of a class or in a small group, meeting with them individually, and watching the lightbulbs go on when we connect with each other.  I have the soul of an educator.  Personally, I am the happiest with my husband and each of our children.  The connection I feel with them gives my life meaning.  
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