Fellowship Opportunity at University of Chicago in Primary Care Research

See below regarding a University of Chicago Fellowship opportunity for graduating residents who are interested in pursuing an academic career as a clinical investigator in internal medicine, pediatrics, ID/HIV, or geriatrics.

The goal of the HRSA T32 Primary care Investigators Training in Chronic disease & Health disparities (PITCH) Fellowship is to train the next generation of primary care clinical investigators to improve health outcomes and care delivery for patients with chronic diseases from underserved backgrounds. The PITCH Fellowship will recruit fellows from diverse backgrounds and train four (two first-year and two second-year) primary care fellows each year. Research projects will be aimed primarily at transforming the health care system through value-based care delivery and quality improvement initiatives, as well as improving mental health access and care, ending the crisis of opioid use disorder and overdose in America, and ending the HIV epidemic

Fellows will attain the core competencies for health services research and formal education addressing responsible conduct of research, oral and written presentation, manuscript and grant writing, leadership skills, and project management. Fellows will be offered the opportunity to complete Master of Science for Clinical Professionals or Master of Public Health, in addition to receiving dedicated, aligned mentorship with at least biweekly meetings and quarterly mentorship reviews. Through these activities, our fellows will become experts in the key principles of primary care research affecting vulnerable populations, the communication of their findings, leveraging policy to improve equity, and gain the fundamental skills that are required for rigorous academic research careers.


All primary care clinicians with a commitment to a clinical investigator career will be considered for this two-year fellowship. Priority will be given to physician candidates from the specialties of internal medicine, geriatrics, pediatrics, and infectious disease (HIV) and/or those from underrepresented backgrounds.  For those individuals pursuing ID/HIV or geriatrics, acceptance into the PITCH fellowship and the clinical fellowships can be coordinated.

Applicants must be board-eligible or board-certified in internal medicine and/or pediatrics and eligible for licensure in the state of IL by July 1 of their first fellowship year. In addition, due to federal regulations based on our funding, applicants are required to be U.S. citizens or have permanent U.S. residence status at the time of the application.

Application Process:

Applying requires a 1) CV, 2) personal statement, and 3) brief Redcap survey.  The personal statement should explain why you are interested in this fellowship, your general area of research, name potential mentors, and describe your long-term goals including the position you think you would want after completing the fellowship.  The Fellowship has a particular interest in recruiting fellow from diverse backgrounds, so please also include information about your personal background.

If applicants move to the interview stage, then applicants will be asked to submit 3 letters of recommendation and an example of their research writing, if available.

Important dates:

Call for Applications: 4/1/2021-8/1/2021

Application Deadline: 8/1/2021

Invitation to Interview: 7/1/2021-8/22/2021

2nd Call for Applications (if necessary): 8/1/2021-8/31/2021

Applicant Interviews: 7/1/2021-9/30/2021

Deadline for Acceptance: 10/20/2021

Fellowship start date: 7/1/2022

To apply or if you have questions, please contact Morgan Ealey (Administrative Director) at mealey@medicine.bsd.uchicago.edu, Neda Laiteerapong, MD, MS (Program Director) at nlaiteer@medicine.bsd.uchicago.edu, and/or Elbert Huang, MD, MPH (Co-Director) at (ehuang@medicine.bsd.uchicagoe.du).

Now Available @ our VA – Inpatient COVID Vaccines!!!

The COVID-19 Vaccine is now available at the SD VA for our inpatients! You can order it by going to: Inpatient Meds and then clicking the Immunization/Skin Test menu. 

One caveat to keep in mind: for patients going to a SNF, please discuss vaccination with the Social Worker. Vaccination can negatively impact disposition options, as some SNFs require other vaccines (pneumovax, influenza) and the CDC still recommends a minimum 14-day interval before or after administration of any other vaccine. 

Reach out to Alex Cypro (alexander.cypro@va.gov) with any questions or concerns. Go and vaccinate your patients today!

NEW Communication Tool to the VA (VIQ/QIPS)

Kudos to our residents Sophie Cannon, Ibrahim Selevany and Diego Vargas for successfully launching a communication aid tool at the VA based off a QIPS case presented by Nandi Shah. Look out for these signs at the bedside to indicate communication deficits and improve the patient experience.


VIQ: Procalcitonin: Does It Really Change Management at UCSD?

Procalcitonin: Does It Really Change Management at UCSD
Our stellar residents and interns on VIQ questioned the practical use of procalcitonin in our hospitals. Great job Nagambika Munaganuru, Bianca Palushaj, Alexander Tong, Alexandra Sykes, Jacob Kaiser, W. Kenneth Winter, Nandi Shah, Lester Tsai, Cynthia Hsu, Katarina Vasiljevic, Yan Xing, Praneet Mylavarapu, and Janna Raphelson!!

Procalcitonin is an emerging biomarker that can be used to predict the likelihood of bacterial infection. Multiple studies have looked at its role in guiding abx therapy with patients admitted for respiratory tract infections, as well as those admitted with sepsis to the ICU. Typically, for PCL < 0.1 mcg/L, antibiotics strongly discouraged; if it is >0.25 mcg/L, antibiotics are recommended.  

Our study was to determine whether PCL levels resulted in fewer days of antibiotic therapy for patients with uncomplicated pneumonia. Charts for 57 patients hospitalized at UCSD with a diagnosis of CAP between 2/2019-8/2019 were reviewed. We found no clinically significant difference in average antibiotic duration between patients with elevated PCL vs normal PCL’s (5.1 vs 5.7 days, respectively).   

Even in cases when RPNA was positive for virus and PCL was low, the median antibiotic duration was 7 days, suggesting that we do not rely on results from either diagnostic test for clinical decision making. This raises the question of why we order these tests at all.  

There are several reasons that may explain this. There may be a discordance between a patient’s clinical presentation and their PCL level. Since many PCL’s are ordered by the ED, they may be accidentally or deliberately ignored by the primary team. Except for rare cases, it does not appear that PCL was trended (it should be to determine response to antibiotic treatment). Lastly, given that it is a relatively new biomarker, clinicians may not yet feel comfortable using it as part of their routine practice.  

We conclude that there remain opportunities to improve our use of diagnostic testing by either reducing the use of irrelevant testing or increasing the extent to which we incorporate the test results in our antibiotic decision making.

Grand Rounds 9/11: Improving Antibiotic Stewardship: Can Procalcitonin Save Us?

Today one of our wonderful hospitalists, Dr. Gregory Seymann, spoke on the topic of procalcitonin and its utility in antibiotic stewardship. He reminded us that antibiotic overuse and growing bacterial resistance is an ongoing problem in medicine that we need to actively combat.

He walked us through several studies that showed shorter antibiotic courses were shown to be equivalent to longer courses in terms of efficacy of treatment of pneumonia, reduced antibiotic-related adverse events and reduced utilization costs for institutions. In particular, several studies demonstrated that excess therapy use was driven by discharge prescriptions for patients for antibiotic course prolonged beyond what was clinically indicated for treatment.

Dr. Seymann then introduced procalcitonin as a biomarker that could be utilized for treatment of bacterial infections in guiding initiation and discontinuation of antibiotics.  He discussed the PROHOSP study and several meta-analyses, which showed that in the inpatient setting for both ward level and ICU level patients, using procalcitonin to guide early discontinuation of antibiotics (in regards to initiation and duration of treatment) did not lead to increased patient mortality and decreased risk of adverse effects.

He went on to address some common arguments against the use of procalcitonin.  Dr. Seymann addressed the pitfalls of the 2018 PROACT study that had been published in NEJM and showed no difference in mean antibiotic days and no difference in adverse outcomes. In regards to relying instead on identification of a bacterial source of infection, he highlighted that often the yield from culture data is low. He noted that using an antibiotic time out does not appear to be sufficient as it may not be utilized as often as required, and therefore many antibiotics might be continued needlessly.  As for relying on clinical judgment, there is evidence that about 50% of patient deemed by their provider as having low likelihood of having a bacterial infection will still get antibiotics. Therefore, there is a need for an additional tool like procalcitonin to guide usage of antibiotics.

Dr. Seymann then also highlighted the work of our residents recently on the Value Improves Quality (VIQ) rotation. They had looked at the utilization of procalcitonin within our hospitals and showed that providers at UCSD were not using procalcitonin appropriately. Some patients with low procalcitonins were still given antibiotics and some with high procalcitonin did not receive treatment. He reminded us to be thoughtful about only ordering tests the we would act upon and actively incorporate into our clinical decision-making, including procalcitonin.

Dr. Seymann concluded with a request to the audience to take on the responsibility of antibiotic stewardship together and to work actively combat antibiotic resistance.

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Thank you for a thought-provoking talk, Dr. Seymann!






Lifelong Learning: WIHI

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) is arguably the foremost organization for all things Quality and Patient Safety in the United States. They have created a new “online radio” (think podcast) channel called WIHI (click here for an explanation of how “W” and “K” became assigned to radio channels, in case you’re curious like me). WIHI covers a wide range of topics, some recent episodes include: What’s an Apology Worth? The Case for Communication and Resolution Women in Action: Paving the Way for Better Care  Building the Will and Skill to Be a Clinical Improver  Lowering Readmissions, Reducing Disparities And many more! Oh, and did I mention it’s free?? Happy listening!

Friday School: statistical process control charts, osteoporosis and transgender health

Today we had a perfect combination of sessions to round out the end of the Endo, Gender Health and QI block! We started with a hands-on session, creating our own SPC charts to learn how easy and useful these can be. This was lead by our very own Dr. Jack Temple. Remember these graphs/charts help you see visually how a process changes over time. This is easy to understand when you think about graphing someone’s blood pressure: you can see average ranges and when it goes high vs low. This was followed by a case-based session on osteoporosis with Dr. Kado. The groups went through various cases to discuss when and how to treat osteoporosis and when to stop. Take a look at this single slide for a nice guide:   The interns joined us for the rest of Friday school which consisted of a lecture on LGBT health by Dr. Jill Blumenthal and followed by a transgender panel. Below

read more Friday School: statistical process control charts, osteoporosis and transgender health

Demystifying the PDSA

Hey! It’s no secret, residents often dread PDSAs — many put them off until late into their training. I’m here to help! In this short video, I demystify the PDSA. I go over: the what (is a PDSA)? why (do we do them)? and how (do you do them)? Also, I throw a shout out to Chimpanzees, the original PDSA champions! As a reminder, six PDSAs are required of categorical residents in order to graduate, but hey, if a Chimpanzee can do it, it can’t be that hard! If you have any questions, email me at jltemple@ucsd.edu