Thursday, August 29, 2013

MedStar at a Glance

As we start a new academic and fiscal year, many of our routine forms get refreshed. Today, the new 'MedStar Health At A Glance' document came across my desk.... and once again, brought a smile to my face!

Now you may be wondering, why would Neil care about a fact sheet on MedStar. Perhaps because the fact sheet demonstrates the system's growth in the last year? Perhaps he just really likes numbers? Well, both are true, but what really brings out that smile is the first sentence of how MedStar describes itself:

MedStar Health combines the best aspects of academic medicine, research and innovation with a complete spectrum of clinical services to advance patient care.

Read on to find out that we have one of the largest training programs in the country with 1,100 residents/fellows and the stats section lists that we have over 1,000 open research studies in the clinical setting. Along the right side, where it lists 'Who We Are,' there is a section for "Clinical Research and Innovation" just under the list of 10 hospitals.

On behalf of more than 1000 MedStar associates, investigators and resident/ fellows involved in research at MedStar, it brings warmth to our heart and smiles to our face to see our academic work shared as a valuable aspect of MedStar Health.

Access the document online:, or if you need printed copies for your office, email

Monday, August 26, 2013

MedStar Total Rewards

If you are like me, the mail piles up for a few days (especially bills and what appears to be junk mail) and then I tend to catch up over the weekend.
Well, I want to take a minute to make sure you take a look at the MedStar Total Rewards booklet that should have arrived last week (for all benefits-eligible MedStar associates).  I was pleasantly surprised how much information it contained and how they personalized it (it had all of my information with the specific benefits I signed up for, how much they cost me and how much they cost MedStar).  

I found it useful and hope you do to.

For more information or questions about your summary, please contact Human Resources (at MHRI, contact:

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Meet MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting MedStar's newest member of the system, MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center. I went to talk about the Research Institute and what it offers investigators and staff interested in research throughout the system. But, it also gave me the opportunity to learn more about our tenth hospital.

MedStar Health welcomed MedStar Southern Maryland in December 2012. Here are a few fun facts:

  • It's a 262-bed acute care medical center with about 65,000 Emergency Department visits and close to 19,000 inpatient admissions annually.
  • Located in Clinton, MD, MedStar Southern Maryland has an accredited Chest Pain Center and opened the first Primary Stroke Center in Prince George’s County. To this day, it is one of the largest stroke centers in Maryland. 
  • Community outreach is an integral part. MedStar Southern Maryland provides health screenings, organizes blood drives and developed the Mallwalkers program, which gets the community out to walk each day at two mall locations.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Art, Science, Ferris Bueller and Vacation

So first of all, I want to thank Katie Carlin for her guest post on research development while I was away on vacation and for Dr Michelle Magee for her guest post on 'working through lunch' while I was in recovery mode catching up from vacation.

So with this post, I want to share a first for me.  I have been at many investigators' meetings but never before did I have one in an art museum.  I am currently returning from an investigators' meeting in Chicago this weekend on a new type of heart valve.  Over 50 sites are taking part in this study and this meeting was to provide updates and information on next steps.  That is routine but what caught my attention was the location - the Art Institute of Chicago.  This was the art museum that was prominent in the classic move Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Given the setting, it was appropriate that they started the meeting with a classic quote from Ferris Bueller during the movie:

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

The meeting chair then went on to talk about how quickly the medical technology has changed and compared the changes in valve technology year by year to the changes made in mobile phone technology. 

Both the opening statement (i.e., the need to stop and breath and look around) and the rapid changes in technology, brought me back to something I learned during vacation last week.  This may sound strange, but during vacation I had a chance to learn a lot more about Darwin and his life's work.  There is a simple statement plastered on a T-shirt I now have that says: "Evolve.... or go extinct!"  It is so true in nature, in medical technology, in the field of scientific discovery and in our life during healthcare reform. 

Vacation gave me a chance to 'stop and look around' and appreciate that the rapid changes of our world are ok..... In fact they not just 'ok' but they are a good and a natural process of evolution. With that, my attention went back to the meeting, the valve technology AND the beautiful setting we were in:

Of course, as soon as the meeting ended, many of us did bolt over to the exhibits in the museum to enjoy a few minutes of the artwork before the museum closed for the day.  Ferris would have been very disappointed if we left without "looking around"!

Best wishes for everyone to enjoy the last weeks of summer!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Working through Lunch

By: Guest Blogger Michelle Magee, MD, MedStar Diabetes, Research and Innovation Institutes
At the last managers meetings we all reviewed the responses to the MedStar Associate 2013 survey and identified different areas that need improvement in order to make our organization a great place to work. Then managers signed up to get together for brainstorming sessions to create ideas and strategies to move things forward in each of these areas. 

I helped convene a group to look at “Reward and Recognition” of excellent associates; the group decided to tackle this issue by 'working through lunch'! We met at a central location, away from the office, to have lunch and discuss the area for which we are responsible. We realize that recognition, such as positive reinforcement, for a “job well done,” is needed more often within the Research Institute. The group also felt that having a relaxed forum, such as a retreat, that would allow time for networking, voicing issues and challenges, and developing strategies for moving forward would be valuable. Other suggestions will be discussed at upcoming managers' meetings.  

It was great to get together with managers from other areas to work on a common goal that will benefit all the associates at MHRI!

From left: Mihri Mete, Sue Shapiro, Oladduni Soremekun, Crystal Bland, Carine Nassar, Michelle Magee, MD, and Michele Lee Clements

Associates: do you have suggestions for how we improve reward and recognition? If so, please comment below or make a submission to 2-Way Communication ( on StarPort.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Developing Research… How Do We Do It?

By: Guest blogger Katie Carlin, director of Research Development and Planning

How many of our readers know what research development and planning is? As the director of this department, my goal is to grow and support research activity throughout MedStar. I like to refer to it as the “nerdy” version of business development. Research development  includes pairing investigators to funding sources, assisting in proposal development, hosting events such as new investigator orientations or the annual research symposium, as well as developing strategic business plans and cultivating relationships with third party research partners.

What I enjoy most about my job is that every day I get to meet with some of the brightest, and most driven and creative investigators across the system to learn about their specific areas of research. From integrated care delivery models to remote monitoring to diabetes prevention toolkits to novel approaches for thyroid cancer imaging, I am constantly reminded of the depth and breadth of research activity taking place throughout MedStar! My role also affords me the opportunity to work with many of the managers and coordinators on the front lines of research – shout out to the WIS coordinators who helped bring together a pregnancy and nutrition proposal! I also can’t leave out our incredible bio-stats team who is always willing to do a “quick” Explorys pull for a critical data point. But it’s not just those groups who help us develop research each and every day. Dr. Weissman often reminds us that research is a team sport. As summer winds down and our internal clocks re-set for another work year, I look forward to interacting with and supporting all the talented MHRI research teams across the system.

Anyone can contact the research development team at