SUNY Downstate News March 2017

SUNY Downstate medical students excelled in the 2017 National Residency Match, passing the national average. Also, 71% of Graduates will train in New York State. Read more about SUNY Downstate Match 2017, here.

Research by SUNY Downstate Medical Center 4th-year Medical Student Jared Ditkowsky and 2nd-year Pediatrics Resident Sairaman Nagarajan, MD, MPH, was recognized by members of the national press at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) in Atlanta, March 3-6. These research projects were performed in the Center for Allergy and Asthma Research (CAAR) at SUNY Downstate, an ongoing interdepartmental translational research collaboration. Read more about this allergy research at SUNY Downstate, here.

Pilot eye movements change noticeably by two hours in-flight. Pilot fatigue is a major contributor to aviation disasters, but coming up with an objective measure of fatigue has long eluded supervisors in both military and commercial airlines. Standard practice involves a combination of subjective self-report measures by the pilot, and an assessment by commanding officers. With numerous factors at play, including social and financial ones, how can one objectively determine a pilot’s ability to focus and fly safely? Read more about this SUNY Downstate research into flight safety, here.

 

Watch the AOA Annual Lecture 2017: Ralph Snyderman, MD ’65, on YouTube

Ralph Snyderman, MD ’65, Duke University Chancellor Emeritus, gave the AOA Lecture March 21, 2017, at SUNY Downstate. Learn more about Dr. Snyderman’s ties to Duke and SUNY Downstate, here.

Hear Ralph Snyderman, MD ’65, Duke Chancellor Emeritus, Present AOA Lecture March 21

Downstate alumnus Ralph Snyderman, MD ’65, Duke University Chancellor Emeritus and the James B. Duke Professor of Medicine, will present “From Brooklyn to Duke’s Chancellor for Health Affairs: Lessons Learned” March 21 as the AOA annual lecture.

The reception and lecture are open to the public, but the AOA awards dinner to follow is by invitation only.

ATA Chapter of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society
Annual AOA Reception, Lecture and Awards Dinner
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Deity Events, 368 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, 11217

For more information, visit the AOA site, here, or call the Alumni Association-College of Medicine for SUNY Downstate at 718-270-2075.

If you can’t make it in person, make sure we have your correct email address. We’ll include a link to a transcript or filmed version of the lecture in our email newsletter within the next few months.

Ralph Snyderman MD

Ralph Snyderman, MD ’65
From Duke University

Dr. Ralph Snyderman served as Chancellor for Health Affairs at Duke University and Dean of the School of Medicine from 1989 to July 2004 and led the transition of this excellent medical center into an internationally recognized leader of academic medicine. During his tenure, the medical school and hospital achieved ranking amongst the nation’s best. He oversaw the development of the Duke University Health System, one of the most successful integrated academic health systems in the country, and served as its first President and Chief Executive Officer. Dr. Snyderman has played a leading role in the conception and development of Personalized Health Care, an evolving model of national health care delivery. He was among the first to envision and articulate the need to move the current focus of health care from the treatment of disease-events to personalized, predictive, preventative, and participatory care that is focused on the patient. In 2012, Dr. Snyderman received the David E. Rogers Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges who referred to him as the “father of personalized medicine.”

Dr. Snyderman has been widely recognized for his contributions to the development of personalized health care, a more rational, effective, and compassionate model of health care.  He was awarded the first Bravewell Leadership Award for outstanding achievements in the field of integrative medicine in 2003. In 2007, he received the Leadership in Personalized Medicine Award from the Personalized Medicine Coalition for his efforts in advancing predictive and targeted therapies on a national scale. In 2008, Dr. Snyderman received Frost & Sullivan’s North American HealthCare Lifetime Achievement Award for his pioneering spirit and contributions to medicine.  In 2009, he received the Triangle Business Journal’s Healthcare Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2010, Procter & Gamble named Snyderman an honorary member of the Victor Mills Society for his leadership and impact on innovation and he was recognized as a Bioscience Leader Emeriti by the NC Association for Biomedical Research honoring North Carolina research leaders for their outstanding leadership in the transformation of the state through scientific discovery and innovation. In 2012, Dr. Snyderman received the David E. Rogers Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges for his leadership in academic medicine and for the conception of personalized medicine. Dr. Snyderman was awarded the North Carolina Life Sciences Leadership Award in February 2014.

Dr. Snyderman has played a prominent role in the leadership of such important national organizations as the Association of American Physicians, the Institute of Medicine and the Association of American Medical Colleges. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He served as Chair of the AAMC in 2001-2002 and President of AAP in 2003-2004. He chaired the Institute of Medicine’s National Summit on Integrative Medicine and the Health of the Public held in February 2009.

Dr. Snyderman accepted his first faculty appointment at Duke in 1972 and by 1984, he was the Frederic M. Hanes Professor of Medicine and Immunology. His research contributed to the understanding of how white blood cells respond to chemical signals to mediate host defense or tissue damage and he is internationally recognized for his contributions in inflammation research. In 1987, Snyderman left Duke to join Genentech, Inc., the pioneering biomedical technology firm, as Senior Vice President for medical research and development. While at Genentech, he led the development and licensing of several major biotechnology therapeutics.

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Report Card for a Curriculum: Inaugural Class Graduates From Downstate Integrated Pathways this May

SUNY Downstate’s medical curriculum took a decade to plan and implement

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Dr. Jeanne Macrae

The SUNY Downstate Class of 2017 will be the first class to graduate from four years of the College of Medicine’s new Integrated Pathways curriculum, launched in August 2013.

“They seem to be doing very well,” said Dr. Jeanne Macrae, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. “Before we declare victory, we want to see how the Match comes out, but they have certainly given us some very good feedback. They said they’ve felt very competent, clinically. Objectively speaking, their test scores are very good. By all the indicators we have, we expect them to do very well.”

A total of 150 faculty members and students restructured Downstate’s curriculum between 2008 and 2013. One goal was to introduce patient-focused clinical study earlier in the medical school career.

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“It involved blowing up the entire schedule of the first two years and redoing it hour-by-hour with new activities,” said Dr. Macrae, the longtime residency program director for Internal Medicine who served on the curriculum steering committee. She now oversees Downstate’s four-year curriculum, overall.

“We have the patient wrapped as much as we possibly can into the entire scope of the curriculum,” she said.

Medical school traditionally starts with two years of basic science followed by two years of clinical study, as alumni are aware. Now, basic science comes paired with clinical instruction. An overview of body systems early in Foundations of Medicine, for example, is followed by a lesson on how to perform a physical exam.

“Let’s say they’re learning about the knee,” Dr. Macrae said. “They dissect the knee on their cadaver; learn about the radiology of the knee, and how to examine a patient’s knee. They learn how to talk to a patient about problems with the knee, and the diseases that occur in the knee, and doing this all in the same week.”

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Downstate now also starts its small-group, problem-based learning sessions by interviewing a live actor to reflect realistic information gathering. First years who start school in late August are observing physicians in actual clinical environments by October.

Each of six pre-clinical courses ends with a weeklong assessment. Students are tested for medical knowledge and clinical skills, graded on patient interviews and examinations, and on the student’s professionalism and communication skills. If they fail any component, they fail the unit and undergo remediation. The assessments have teeth, Dr. Macrae said.

Downstate began its curricular update almost 10 years ago, with many other US medical schools. Healthcare was changing, and still is. The trend is toward patient-centered care, medical care in teams verses solo practices, more data, and more readily available data.

“There is a whole new set of competencies that doctors need to have,” Dr. Macrae said.

Downstate also needed to comply with changing LCME standards and to make sure students were fully prepared for national tests and licensing exams.

An earlier start to the clinical rotations, now the April of second year, also helps fourth-year students make more informed choices about residency.

“If you really didn’t know what you want to do, come July of fourth year, it is really very hard to arrange enough experiences to make a rational decision about what to do,” Dr. Macrae said. “Plus, in some of the competitive residencies, they weren’t taking people who hadn’t done a rotation in that field at home, plus one in their institution, plus other activities. So, there was felt to be a need for students to have a longer period of time to deal with these residency-related issues.”

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The curriculum divides the four years of medical school into three phases. The first phase, Foundations of Medicine, focuses on basic science. During the second phase, Core Clinical Medicine, students complete paired clinical clerkships over a total of 48 weeks. The third phase, Advanced Clinical Medicine, follows late in the third year, lasts 14 months, and rotates students thorough the full spectrum of sites of care: emergency room, inpatient floors, critical care units, palliative care services and nursing homes. Students also complete five months of elective rotations.

“There is less basic science initially,” said Dr. Macrae. “We end basic science three months sooner than we used to.” However, basic science is also woven back in to the final years of medical school for a complete integration.

Learn more about the Integrated Pathways curriculum on the SUNY Downstate site.


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Running Down a Dream: Downstate Students Marathon for the Free Clinic

SUNY Downstate students and supporters raise $21,000 during the New York Marathon to benefit the Anne Kastor Brooklyn Free Clinic

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From left to right, second-year medical student Mike Levine, first-year Katie Lee, Ben and Jim Naughton

 

When Ben Naughton was 10 or 11, he got the opportunity from his aunt Anne to make someone else’s life better. The late Dr. Anne Kastor, who helped found the Brooklyn Free Clinic, offered to donate to her nephew’s non-profit of choice for his birthday.

This was the dawn of Bionicle and PlayStation 2, and “birthday money” usually means gifts, but “she wanted me to research and find something I was passionate about for her to give to,” Ben said. “And so started the tradition where, every Christmas, I asked others, as well, not to give presents, but instead to donate. From that, and in the way she lived, she instilled in me, to put it simply, this idea of living to help others, especially those less fortune than you.”

The Alumni Association allocates money annually to the program run by SUNY Downstate students.

The $21,000 that Ben, his father Jim Naughton, and three Downstate med students raised will go toward covering prescription medication for the Brooklyn Free Clinic’s uninsured patients. The runners crowdfunded for the clinic on Crowdrise.

Ben, now 25 and an associate producer for CNN in Atlanta, ran as a member of the Brooklyn Free Clinic’s Marathon Team Nov. 6. It was his fourth marathon. He has run seriously since high school, and when “my dad and I found out we could combine two of our passions in running and non-profit work and for a place like the Brooklyn Free Clinic, it was a no-brainer.”

Ben’s aunt, Dr. Kastor, had been a primary care physician, a SUNY Downstate faculty member, and one of the founders of the clinic in 2006. She died of ovarian cancer at 49 in 2013.

“After her death, I thought what better way to honor her then to ask every year for people to give to the Brooklyn Free Clinic, a cause she was so passionate about,” Ben said.

The Brooklyn Free Clinic moves to the Downstate campus January 4, 2017, but has operated at 840 Lefferts Avenue, Brooklyn, since its inception. The clinic opens once a week to walk-in patients, many without insurance and from underserved communities.

Students from all of Downstate’s divisions, the colleges of Medicine and Nursing, to Health Related Professions and Public Health, run the clinic together. It’s a hospital in miniature, and seems to feed the students’ passion for medicine and public health.

“I got to know about the clinic from Anne telling me about her involvement in during its early days,” Ben said. “And I would say we, in our immediate family, watched it as it came to be and grew up. Then when Anne died, I think it is this way when people die, especially, at a young age from something like cancer. This brought us all closer to everyone and everything that Anne touched. David Marcus, one of the students who started the Brooklyn Free Clinic, wrote a post about Anne, and what she meant to him and the clinic. I knew it before, but I really saw and heard, through that post, how passionate he and all the people at BFC are about what they are doing.”

In his remembrance, Ben Marcus, MD, wrote, “Anne was key to the development of the BFC. I know there was much more to her than this simple, minor act, but this is how we knew her. She was an amazing mentor to the leadership group. She was an inspiring clinician to all of the volunteers, and she reminded us that primary care is not dead. Even in this difficult practice environment, Dr. Kastor showed us, and taught us, the essential role that the primary care physician plays in her or his patients’ lives.” Read the rest of Ben Marcus’ tribute, here.

Ben finished the New York Marathon and gave his cousin, Holly, Anne’s young daughter, his medal. There are things more important than objects, like family, giving, and inspiring others to give.

“The Brooklyn Free Clinic is a place that is very near to my family’s heart, both because of Anne’s connection to it, and what it stands for in that way,” he said. “And also because of the amazing work that they do.”


Student Profiles: Mike Levine and Katie Lee

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Katie Lee is a first-year Downstate medical student, a runner, and former collegiate pole-vaulter from her alma mater, the University of California, Santa Barbara. She went on to complete a master’s in Human Nutrition from Columbia University before enrolling at Downstate.

Do you have a specialty in mind?
I am really interested in emergency medicine, but as a first-year, I may fall in love with anything.

Have you run a marathon before?
It was my first marathon. I was a pole vaulter in college, but at the end of college I wanted to get involved in long distance running.

Have you gotten an opportunity to volunteer yet with the Brooklyn Free Clinic?
My work right now is very behind the scenes, though, I would love the opportunity to work within the clinic. What’s cool about it is, they say 98 percent of the students, med students at least, are involved in the clinic in some way.

How did it feel to support the clinic?
We’re able to be so sustainable, and to really have an impact in the community, and to provide every part of health care for free. It was really great to run the marathon and to support it.


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Mike Levine, a second-year Downstate medical student, got into shape after college by training for a Spartan obstacle race in 2014, followed by a spate of races around New York, including the Brooklyn Half Marathon in 2015. He is planning on a career in emergency medicine.

What is your “hometown?”
I’m originally from Central CT, near New Haven

Was your first marathon everything you thought it would be?
I only just ran my first half marathon in May. I had a lot of fun actually, and it was a beautiful day. I had very competitive goals for it, so I was pushing pretty hard, but nevertheless it was very fun seeing the thousands of supporters.

What was one moment of personal victory?
I pushed really hard during the last four miles. Because I did, I was able to run the second half of the race about one minute faster than the first (a ‘negative split’), which was goal #1 and I’m really proud about that. It validates the work I put into training. My goal was to run at an eight minute per mile pace, which I missed by about six minutes total, but I’m happier about getting the negative split.

What does the BFC mean to you? What did it mean to run, to benefit the clinic?
It’s an opportunity to do some good for this local community, for so many people who really don’t have a lot of stability or support in their lives. All the work I’ve been able to do for the clinic helps to reaffirm that I’m doing my best to be my best. The clinic has become a tremendously central aspect of the Downstate education. It is a place where students from the entire university come together to sharpen their clinical skills while also serving their community. Getting to interact and learn from older students is something I always look forward to. I look forward to devoting a lot more time and energy into making the clinic the best it can be.


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The Student-Run Brooklyn Free Clinic moves to Clarkson Avenue January 4

The Brooklyn Free Clinic is one of many programs supported in part by medical alumni

Photo courtesy of SUNY Downstate

The student-run Brooklyn Free Clinic moves to the University Hospital of Brooklyn January 4, 2017, on the SUNY Downstate campus, after a decade at its first home, UHB Health Associates at 840 Lefferts Avenue. The clinic had borrowed the office space after hours.

The new location, Suite A on the first floor near the University Hospital entrance, is already a working clinic, but was also available to the Brooklyn Free Clinic, 5 pm to 7 pm, Wednesdays. The difference is that BFC patients will now be closer to a larger health network if they need a referral or emergency care, said Shifra Mincer, second-year Downstate medical student, and BFC communications officer.

Read about the Brooklyn Free Clinic’s recent New York Marathon fundraiser

The location is also more convenient for student and physician volunteers coming from class or work, she said. This may encourage more doctors to volunteer as attending physicians, which could expand the clinic’s capacity to help Brooklyn’s underserved, and provide more students with valuable training.

“We’re swamped on Wednesdays,” Mincer said. “People make appointments in advance, and we try to take walk-ins, based on what we can do. If we could get two attendings one night, we could move much faster.”

The clinic is run by a team of students from across Downstate, the colleges of Medicine and Nursing, the College of Health Related Professions and School of Public Health. Students handle everything from scheduling and administrative work, to screening and caring for patients, overseen by attending physicians and faculty advisors. Patients are often referred to a network of specialists who agree to treat them for free.

“The proximity (of the new clinic location) to the rest of the hospital has multiple benefits – easier access for volunteer attending physicians, closer proximity of referral services for patients, better synchronization of medical records with Downstate systems, and consolidation of care into a single locale,” said Patrick Eucalitto, third-year medical student and Chief Operations Officer for the Brooklyn Free Clinic. “This simplifies the often daunting task that patients face when navigating multiple providers.”

The team will miss the clinic’s first home, he said, but the move will be positive for volunteers, patients and students. Mincer agrees.

“One of the most important things about the clinic, in addition to serving people who wouldn’t otherwise get care, is that it’s an opportunity for students to learn and to practice in real life what we’re learning about. Normally, students don’t get to do that until third year,” Mincer said. “This is an opportunity for us to actually practice. It’s a double mission of serving people and learning.”

Working with students from other disciplines is also an opportunity to practice “socially conscious” healthcare, she said. It’s a collaboration.

“BFC leadership is using the move as a strategic opportunity for self-assessment, reevaluation, growth, and change, and we’re really excited about it,” Eucalitto said. “We get a chance to rethink our logistics, to recreate a clinical environment that reflects our organization’s core values of access, education, and inclusivity, and to optimize our unique balance between student education and excellent patient care for those who need it most.”

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Ralph Snyderman, MD ’65 appointed to the Argos

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Ralph Snyderman, MD
Photo Duke University

Argos Therapeutics Inc. announces the appointment of Ralph Snyderman, MD ’65, and Irackly Mtibelishvily, LL.M., to the company’s board of directors.

“It is a privilege to welcome a pair of profoundly accomplished professionals to the Argos board of directors who offer renowned expertise in each of their respective fields,” said Jeff Abbey, president and CEO of Argos. “Dr. Snyderman is widely referred to as the ‘father of personalized medicine’ and his experience running the Duke University Health System as well as his senior leadership roles at Genentech will help guide us as we advance our individualized immunotherapy through the final stages of clinical development, assess indication expansion and approach our goal of becoming a fully-integrated commercial company. In addition, Irackly Mtibelishvily is globally recognized as one of the most experienced international investment bankers and will advise on important corporate finance and other strategic activities in the years ahead.”

Dr. Snyderman is chancellor emeritus at Duke University, James B. Duke professor of medicine, and director of the Center for Research on Personalized Health Care. He served as chancellor for health affairs and dean of the Duke University School of Medicine from 1989 to 2004. During this time, he oversaw the development of the Duke University Health System and served as its first president and chief executive officer. Dr. Snyderman has played a leading role in the conception and development of Personalized Health Care, an evolving model of national health care delivery. Previously, Dr. Snyderman served as senior vice president for medical research and development at Genentech, Inc., the pioneering biomedical technology firm. He has played a leadership role in important national organizations such as the Association of American Physicians, the National Academy of Medicine, and Association of American Medical Colleges. Dr. Snyderman earned a doctor of medicine degree from SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

Argos Therapeutics

Brooklyn Recognizes M. Monica Sweeney, MD, MPH ’75 for AIDS Work

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On December 2, 2016, in conjunction with World AIDS Day, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams recognized Dr. Monica Sweeney, ’75, SUNY Downstate Vice Dean for Global Engagement and Chair of Health Policy & Management in the School of Public Health, for her years of dedication and accomplishments in public health. The ceremony was held at Brooklyn Borough Hall.

Dr. Sweeney dedicated many years to addressing the health challenges in Brooklyn and elsewhere, and to achieving health equity and improving health care access for those who are disadvantaged.

She is the former assistant commissioner for the Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control in the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Prior to that time, she served as medical director and vice president for medical affairs at the Bedford Stuyvesant Family Health Center in Brooklyn. Dr. Sweeney is the immediate past chair of the SUNY Downstate Council, and served on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA), and as president of the Medical Society of the County of Kings. She has been a member of the board of directors of several prominent organizations, and has served as co-chair of the Physician Advisory Council of the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute, and as president of the Clinical Directors Network.

In the fight against HIV/AIDS, Dr. Sweeney led the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s prevention and control efforts for several years. Her service on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS resulted in new initiatives to control the disease globally.

Dr. Sweeney received her medical degree from SUNY Downstate College of Medicine, and a Master of Public Health degree in health services management from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She completed her residency training in internal medicine at Kings County Hospital Center/Downstate Medical Center, and is boarded in internal medicine.

Dr. Sweeney has served as a member of the faculty of the School of Public Health for several years and, prior to the school’s establishment, as a faculty member of the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health. She has also served as a member of the faculty of Downstate’s Department of Medicine.

Dr. Sweeney is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including the Award for Service in Health & Health Education for Black Women of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Public Health Advocate Award from the Public Health Association of New York City, and the Leadership in Urban Medicine Award of the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health.

SUNY  Downstate

Norman Chenven, MD ’70, TCMS Physician of the Year

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By LeAnne DuPay, Travis County Medical Society

Roll with the punches and respond to the changing environment as creatively as you can is Norman Chenven’s life philosophy. Quietly brilliant, Dr. Chenven has calmly followed life’s prompts since day one. So how did he decide to become a physician? “I was majoring in physics  at Brown University,” he explains. “But I knew I did not want a career in physics. I also knew I didn’t want to go to Vietnam.” He opted to apply to  medical school and thus potentially receive a deferment from the draft. Although he wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to be a doctor, he was accepted at the State University of New York Medical Science Center.

He says that his uncertainty was short lived. “The minute I experienced direct patient interaction, I was hooked!” Chenven says with a smile. “It was magic.” Basically, he stumbled into his life’s calling—and he’s managed to be in the right place at the right time over and over—resulting in a life full of rich, unique experiences.


Take his two years working for the US Indian Health Services in a 20 bed hospital located in Tuba City, Arizona on the western side of the Navajo Reservation. Chenven and 14 other doctors cared for a population of nearly 40,000 Navajo and Hopi Indians. Many of the Navajos over the age of 40 did not speak English. “The two tribes did not always get along, but co-existed in their overlapping reservations,” he says. “Historically the Navajo were warriors and herders, very austere and with a guttural sounding language, while the Hopi were villagers and farmers, living in pueblos who spoke with a melodic lilt. The two tribes were a study in contrasts.” Practicing medicine with these cultures was extremely enlightening with regards to both cultural diversity and human nature. Even as late as the early 1970s, some traditional Navaho men, and in particular Medicine Men (who were quite active and respected), wore their hair long. “Some of us younger docs would emulate them by wearing our hair long and tied up with yarn in a bun called a ‘tsi’ (tsiiyeel). I still had my shoulder length hair when I arrived in Austin in 1973 to begin work in the Brackenridge Hospital ED.”



A fond memory of his time on the Reservation was treating a Hopi woman named Gertrude. She was a lovely person in her 80s with lymphoma. From time to time her family would invite him and his wife Dinah to be guests at traditional ceremonies and dances held on the Third Mesa.
Dr. Chenven notes that his experience in the Indian Health Service was his first introduction to the group practice format. “It was very efficient—all specialties working shoulder to shoulder in order to provide superb access and care to our patient population.” He considers this formative experience to have played a role in his decision to found Austin Regional Clinic a decade later.

Escape From New York

While in college, he met Dinah and they were married during his first year of medical school. SUNY Downstate Medical Center was located on the edge of Bedford-Stuyvesant, a tough neighborhood in the middle of Brooklyn. During their four-year stay, murders occurred on opposite corners of their block.

So how did he and Dinah end up in Austin? “We were invited to visit by a high school buddy of mine—Don had come to Texas with Vista (the domestic version of the Peace Corps),” Chenven explains. “We had a great time—he took us honky-tonking and we actually saw Willie Nelson playing to a near empty room at Big G’s in Round Rock.” Like everyone else who comes to Texas, Chenven was charmed and surprised by what is commonly known as “Texas friendly” especially coming from New York. “I guess this was my version of ‘I got here as soon as I could.’ ”

Trading his East Coast thermals for cowboy boots, Dr. Chenven did post-graduate training at Bexar County Hospital in San Antonio. He and Dinah eventually settled in Austin where she attended UT and he took a job in the Brackenridge ED. “Back then it was the only facility open after 5 pm in the surrounding 10 counties,” he remembers. “Virtually every physician volunteered to provide specialty coverage and/or office follow-up. There were fewer than 400 active doctors in the community. It was a different time and place then. The ED was hard work and sometimes scary, but I loved it.” Subsequently, Chenven spent three rewarding years in a four physician group. But in 1980, he left that practice and founded Austin Regional Clinic (ARC).


Launching Austin Regional Clinic

Dr. Chenven never lost his appreciation for the Indian Health Services’ multi-specialty format. “I was inspired with the opportunity to coordinate accessible care for people. I had a multi-specialty dream,” he chuckles.

Howard Marcus, MD, recalls his ARC recruitment experience, “In 1981 I answered a recruitment ad for an internist. At this time, Norman was pretty much a one-man administration. He did all the interviewing. The first thing I notice is that this Jewish guy from Brooklyn is wearing cowboy boots—which absolutely made no sense to me. I took the job anyway!”
Another early recruitment anecdote demonstrates Chenven’s casual manner. Dr. Russ Krienke laughs, “My best Norman story is when he was recruiting me. He took me to the ‘glamorous, upscale’ Thundercloud Subs on Guadalupe, forgot his wallet and I ended up paying for my recruitment lunch. I must have been desperate, because I still signed on!”
There are now 21 ARC locations in the Austin area, employing 350 physicians and providing care to approximately 420,000 patients. In addition to the daily operations of the clinics, Dr. Chenven oversees even more. He is president and CEO of Covenant Management Systems (CMS). CMS is a practice management company that provides technical support and services to hospitals, medical groups, provider networks and governmental and employer health plans.
During what must be rare free time, he loves to visit his three daughters and five grandchildren in Oregon. Running, photography, travel and reading about ancient Greek and Roman history are also favorite pastimes.

Triumphs and Concerns for Medicine

There is no doubt that technological developments in medicine in recent history have been astounding. “The breakthroughs in the past four decades have resulted in the ability to treat (and often cure) conditions that in the past would have meant nothing but ongoing misery for patients” Chenven says with passion. “Sometimes we lose sight of that.” An example of something that will eventually pay off in ways we can’t yet imagine is the data captured by electronic medical records (EMRs). He is excited about the eventual compilation of data that will reveal unique patterns of subpopulations for every type of disease paving the way for more customized treatment plans.
As for what is wrong with medicine? Chenven cites the progressive regulatory complexity and the ongoing fragmentation of the health care delivery system. The lack of consistency, measurable quality and relentlessly escalating costs are going to hinder a physician’s ability to provide high quality care. “I am concerned that our country’s political dysfunction will make these problems impossible to solve.”
This brings up the subject of advocacy and TCMS. Chenven sees organized medicine and advocacy as being absolutely vital. “There is a quote by Benjamin Franklin made after the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence that I love,” he says. “We must all hang together or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” Translated, one cohesive voice and strength in numbers are key.

So how does Dr. Norman Chenven feel about being named TCMS Physician of the Year? “Old,” he says without hesitation. Why does he think he got the award? “Ditto,” he says with a laugh. “But in all seriousness,” he continued. “Receiving an honor like this, from my colleagues and peers and in a community where I’ve spent most of my career, is recognition that my life’s work has been meaningful. It makes me feel appreciated and grateful.”

Travis County Medical Society


Have you reached a professional milestone? Let us know! Email alumni(at)downstate(dot)edu.

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Giving Tuesday. Support Downstate Medical Students by Giving Today!

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Today is Giving Tuesday, a special day for many nonprofits across the United States.  Please consider making a donation today to support the work of the Alumni Association for the College of Medicine at SUNY Downstate. Hopefully, you have received our most recent request for both your annual dues and for donations to the Alumni Fund in the mail. Please note that any gifts postmarked with December 1, 2015 will be counted in our Giving Tuesday goals. Our hope is to get at least 30 donations from our alumni today.

To see how your donations are making a difference, check out our Facebook page.

You can make your donation by clicking here:

Make a donation online today!

or you can call our office to make a credit card gift over the phone at 718-270-2075.

Thanks for your support,                                             

M. Monica Sweeney, MD ’72, MPH
President, Board of Managers
Alumni Association
College of Medicine, SUNY Downstate

Harold Parnes, MD ’85, FACR
Chair, Board of Trustees
Alumni Fund, Alumni Association
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