Kane King Dodek Society Reception Kicks Off Commencement Weekend

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A graduation cap with a tassle that says 2020

The George Washington University (GW) Commencement Weekend celebrations kicked off on May 13 with the 83rd annual Kane King Dodek Obstetrics Honor Society reception, honoring the year’s outstanding faculty, residents, and students.

Nancy Gaba, MD ’93, RESD ’97, welcomed the crowd of GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) administrators and faculty members, residents, and a select group from the MD Program Class of 2020, who gathered virtually for the annual awards event.

“It is my great honor to welcome you to this unusual, but exciting, 83rd annual Kane King Dodek Obstetrics Honor Society,” said Gaba, the Oscar I. and Mildred S. Dodek and Joan B. and Oscar I. Dodek Jr. Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at SMHS. “To the class of 2020 and those of you who are being honored tonight, I don’t just want to congratulate you, I want to say congratulations for getting through this challenging time. … You are going on to do great things as doctors, and this will be a part of that journey that you will never forget and it will make you even more excellent doctors than you were already destined to become.”

Among those participating in the virtual event were Joan B. Dodek, who along with her late husband Oscar I. Dodek Jr., MD ’56, JD ’85, Professor Emeritus of Obstetrics and Gynecology, helped endow a professorship for the OB-GYN department; Marjorie Weingold, wife of the late Professor Emeritus and former chair of OB-GYN, Allan B. Weingold, MD; and John Larsen, MD, Professor Emeritus and former chair of OB-GYN.

Tamika Auguste, MD, FACOG, presented this year’s Founders Lecture. Auguste, who serves as chair of OB-GYN Clinical Practice Council, vice-chair, women’s and infants’ services at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, associate medical director of the MedStar Health Simulation Training and Education Lab, director of the MedStar Obstetrical Safety Training (MOST) program, and professor of OB-GYN at Georgetown University School of Medicine, titled her address, “Advocating in a Crisis.”

“Regardless of your specialty, location of training, and where you practice, you will have ample opportunity outside of clinical work to advocate for your patients,” Auguste began. “It’s often times in crisis when your advocacy can truly make a difference.”

To underscore the importance and impact of advocacy in times of crisis, she recalled another moment when Washington, D.C., found itself in the midst of a crisis. In 2018, Washington lost two key hospital birthing units — United Medical Center closed and Providence Hospital — downsized to become an ambulatory center — leaving the city with just five birthing hospitals, all within six miles of each other, in the city’s most affluent quarters. The facilities combined to deliver roughly 2,500 babies annually, many from the city’s most medically vulnerable populations.

“The OB providers across the city were distraught,” Auguste recalled. A cry, she said, went out for action. Appeals to city government agencies and the mayor’s office went unheeded, the decision had already been made. However, she said, what happened next was remarkable. “The leaders of all of the remaining hospitals across the city, OB providers from the surrounding jurisdictions, representatives from community health centers, midwives, doulas, Medicaid managed care organizations, representation from the DC Department of Health, and even the city’s emergency response services, all came together.”

The group met to find solutions to help the city’s expectant mothers through the crisis. “We gained invaluable information about how our city’s systems worked, and how we could make those systems work better for our patients. And we started to solve some problems.”

Ultimately, those meetings led to a plan for how best to improve access to care for the city’s expectant mothers, and the challenge was met. Since then, a smaller gathering of those providers and stakeholders has continued to meet quarterly and is now called the Improving OB Care Committee in DC.

“Fast forward to the spring of 2020. Another crisis is upon us, COVID-19,” Auguste said. “Long story short, the band’s back together. We have reformed the larger group and we are meeting every two weeks. We are sharing what we are seeing in our patients, both with COVID-19 and without … and how we are supporting out patients, both hospitalized and not hospitalized.”

To date, the committee successfully ensured universal COVID-19 testing for all pregnant women in labor at all of the hospitals in Washington. “Processes have had to change across the city, not only in our hospitals, but in our ambulatory care centers as well. We have all come together, and we are learning from one another. In these uncertain times, it’s remarkable that we have all of these physicians, nurses, midwives, doulas, [and] city officials sharing information about this virus.”

Following the Founders Lecture, Gaba and department leaders presented the 2020 awards and inducted the society’s newest members.

“This is a society steeped in history,” Gaba said. “The society acknowledges the outstanding graduating medical students and residents in the field of OB-GYN, and it has evolved to also serve as the alumni society for those who received their residency training at SMHS.”

The Kane King Dodek Honor Society was founded in 1937 by Samuel Mayer Dodek, MD, in honor of Albert Freeman Africanus King, MD 1861, professor of obstetrics at GW from 1871–1913 and dean of the medical school from 1879–94. In 1945, Howard Kane, MD ’12, professor of obstetrics and genecology — who actually delivered Oscar I. Dodek Jr., MD — was memorialized with the addition of his name to the society. Upon the 50th anniversary of the society, Samuel Dodek, MD, was added to the name.

Megan Valentine, clerkship director, presented the Oscar I. Dodek Jr. Faculty Teaching Award, given annually to a faculty member who demonstrates outstanding teaching of residents and medical students, as well as a commitment to excellence in medical education. The 2020 teaching award went to Anna BuAbbud, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at SMHS.

Gaba presented Kristin Gorelik, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at SMHS, with the annual Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics Excellence in Teaching Award. The award is voted on by the OB-GYN faculty to honor a colleague who has been instrumental in the education of residents and medical students.

Finally, the 2020 student and resident inductees were announced. Honorees were selected based on their academic performance in the OB-GYN rotation, contribution to scholarly work and research, and commitment to service.

“What really makes this society are the students who are inducted into it,” Gaba added. “Those students don’t all go into OB-GYN, but they are all outstanding in many ways. It’s really what they go on to do after GW that makes this society so special.”

2020 student inductees:

Janine Amirault, Children’s Hospital-Boston, Pediatrics

Laura Biver, SMHS, Obstetrics-Gynecology

Areta Bojko, Tufts Medical Center, Obstetrics-Gynecology

Julia Buldo-Licciardo, Hackensack University Medical Center, Obstetrics-Gynecology

Kathleen Curley, University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix, Obstetrics-Gynecology

Julia Ellis-Kahana, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Surgery-Preliminary

Alexandra Lieberman, New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, Pediatrics

Sarah McCormack, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Pediatrics

Helen Miller, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Obstetrics-Gynecology

Jonathan Minto, University of Rochester/Strong Memorial, Orthopaedic Surgery

Jennifer Shields, Baystate Medical Center, Obstetrics-Gynecology

David Strum, NYU Grossman School of Medicine, Otolaryngology

Marie Sullivan, Stamford Hospital/Columbia, Obstetrics-Gynecology

Alysia Wiener, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Obstetrics-Gynecology

Gabriel Zuckerberg, Children’s Hospital, Philadelphia, Pediatrics

Resident inductees:

Sandricka Collier, MD

Anita Mikkilineni, MD

Lindsey Pflugner, MD

Amelie Pham, MD

Erryn Tappy, MD

Maryalice Wolfe, MD

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