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Jane C. K. Fitch, M.D., Res. ’92 (anesthesiology), has been named the president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA). Fitch, who has served the ASA in numerous capacities, is the first woman to achieve the presidency. She is the professor and chair of the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City.
Karen L. Kwong, M.D., Res. ’93 (surgery), writes, “I’ve always worked at hospitals with populations of low-income patients, including county hospitals, facilities along the U.S. border, or innercity settings. I’m now at the Portland VA, where I am the chief of surgery and associate director for the surgery residency at Oregon Health & Science University.”
Suzette Madson, B.S. ’93 (physical therapy), is in private practice, specializing in orthopaedics, sports and dance physical therapy.
Corliss L. Newman, M.D. ’93, writes, “Enjoying life with my husband, John, and our three kids.”
Kim Stichter Branagan, B.S. ’96 (occupational therapy), writes, “My husband, Brian, and I live in Tampa, Fla., and have two fun and crazy boys, ages 4 and 5. I have been working as an occupational therapist and pediatric rehab coordinator at Tampa General Hospital for the past eight years. All of this continues to challenge me and to be a huge blessing!”
Nassim Assefi, M.D. ’97, writes, “I’m currently the director of stage content at TEDMED. Our April 2014 event at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., attempts to unlock imagination in the service of the biggest issues in health and medicine. I’m also finishing up my second novel, which tells a personal story about the perils of foreign humanitarian action. The subject was inspired by a handful of my Afghan women friends who became superstars in their country post-Taliban, only to be harassed, hurt and killed in the backlash.”
Carey Farquhar, M.D., Res. ’97 (internal medicine), Chief Res. ’98 (internal medicine), Fel. ’03 (allergy and infectious diseases), and UW associate professor of medicine in the Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has received the 2013 UW Medicine Mentoring Award for her mentorship skills and dedication to faculty.
Ryan Blanck, B.S. ’98 (prosthetics and orthotics), developed the Intrepid Dynamic Exoskeletal Orthosis (IDEO) while working at the Brooke Army Medical Center with the Center for the Intrepid. He was the head of the upper-extremity prosthetic program and lead prosthetist on various upper-extremity research projects with the Department of Defense. For his design, he received the Meritorious Civilian Service Award, the second-highest award given to civilian employees of the federal government. He now works with Hanger Clinic in Austin, Texas, and is developing a national IDEO program to provide prosthetics to civilians.
Eileen Bulger, M.D., Res. ’99 (surgery), Fel. ’00 (surgery), UW professor of surgery, writes, “For the last year, I have had the honor of serving as the chief of trauma at Harborview Medical Center, where I manage the trauma quality improvement program and work with all services providing trauma care. I also have been involved with the International Medication Surgical Response Team (IMSURT), headquartered in Washington, D.C., since it was established in 2003. The teams respond to major disasters when a local medical system is overwhelmed and establish field hospitals to manage complex patient cases and perform surgery.”
A Career of Service
During his 24-year career with the U.S. Navy, Rhee was deployed more times than he can remember. He served as the travelling surgeon for President Clinton, and he was the first surgeon sent to Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001. In addition, Rhee founded a program at LA County Hospital to train thousands of medical personnel on how to treat wounded soldiers in the field.
Rhee was also on the front lines of a major news story; in 2011, he was one of two surgeons called to operate on former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, shot during a speaking engagement. “It’s a great privilege to be a trauma surgeon and be ready to take care of whoever comes through the door,” says Rhee.
As vice chair of surgery and chief of trauma at the University of Arizona Medical Center, the only Level 1 trauma hospital in southern Arizona, Rhee is committed to all his patients and to medical readiness in the face of disasters. He’s also committed to research and to training medical students.
“Being with medical students is a priority for all of us,” says Rhee. “It’s the reason we work at a Level 1 trauma center.”
Working for Students:
An interest in the intersection of mental and physical health: that’s what led Anne Eacker, M.D. ’97, chief res. ’01 (internal medicine), to become a primary-care physician. A UW associate professor of medicine, her research focuses on the health and well-being of medical students.
“Medical students who experience burnout are at a higher risk for depression and dropping out of medical school,” says Eacker, who is also the associate dean of student affairs. “All of us who work with students — clinical faculty, College mentors and everyone in Academic Affairs — do all we can to keep burnout from occurring.” Part of that process, she says, is offering opportunities for students to develop strong relationships with each other during their first and second years, and helping them develop the tools they need to sustain them throughout their clinical years.
Eacker draws inspiration from her work. “I have been working with students throughout my time on faculty,” Eacker says. “They constantlyamaze me with their ability to manage their personal and professional lives.” Students may be taking a page from Eacker’s own book: in addition to her work at UW Medicine, Eacker is an enthusiastic skier, a triathlete and an active member of her church. Eacker, above, is pictured on the slopes with her sons, Alec Denny (left) and Aidan Denny.