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Release: Aug. 29, 2002

UI physicians working to advance geriatric medical education

Three faculty members in the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine have received funding for pilot projects in geriatric medical education. The awards were made possible by a grant originally given by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation last year for the UI's program, "Strengthening Geriatric Education in Iowa." The program draws on the collaborative expertise of UI physicians and researchers to create innovative learning experiences for medical students, residents and physicians.

William Hammonds, M.D., UI professor (clinical) of anesthesia, received $5,000 to organize a one-day educational program on special pain problems of the elderly. The event, designed for medical students, residents and faculty of the UI Carver College of Medicine, will include lectures given by health care professionals. In addition, case presentations given by physicians will feature patients who have pain problems common in the elderly. The patients will describe their pain, and each description will be followed by a physician's explanation of the patient's problem.

Patricia Davis, M.D., UI associate professor of neurology, will use a $6,000 award to develop Web-based interactive learning materials that illustrate the diagnosis, anatomic localization and treatment of stroke in the elderly. The program will be used by third- and fourth-year medical students during their neurology clerkships to help them improve competency in caring for geriatric stroke patients. The educational tool will present a variety of selected stroke cases and will complement patient care experiences that students have on the clerkships.

An award of $5,000 will allow Jeffrey Spiess, M.D., UI associate professor (clinical) of internal medicine, to develop a curriculum for the palliative medicine and hospice care clinical rotation for internal medicine residents. Topics covered in the curriculum will include pain control, advance directives, communicating bad news, and ethical and legal issues in the care of the dying patient. Spiess and colleagues will create a community-based experience in hospice care that will include visits to patients' homes and extended care facilities. In addition, hospice professionals will educate residents on topics such as drug therapy, psychological issues, spiritual care, grief and bereavement. The program also will have a component on evaluating swallowing disorders, a common condition in elderly and terminally ill patients that can lead to complications or even death.

Gary Rosenthal, M.D., UI professor of internal medicine and director of the UI Division of General Internal Medicine, and Gerald Jogerst, M.D., UI associate professor of family medicine, are co-principal investigators of the overall $2 million, four-year Donald W. Reynolds Foundation geriatric education grant.

"The new pilot awards will make important contributions in several areas that are often inadequately covered in traditional medical curricula," Rosenthal said.

He added that the pilot awards will supplement other programs currently funded by Reynolds Foundation grants and that he hopes to make additional awards for pilot projects over the next three years.

Davis, Hammonds, Rosenthal and Spiess are all staff physicians with the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in Iowa City. In addition, Rosenthal is a health services researcher with the Iowa City VAMC and director of the Program for Interdisciplinary Research in Health Care Organization at the VAMC.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at