February 23, 2010


A fellowship is the period of medical training in the United States that a physician may undertake after completing a specialty training program. It can also be defined as “companionship of persons on equal and friendly terms.”

When I was in training to become a kidney doctor at the University of Minnesota, the fellows would often partake in fellowship. Whether it was getting together for pizza or playing board games, the social time we spent helped us learn about one another outside the setting of nephrology and work. Unfortunately, as people nowadays get busier and busier, fellowship rarely happens because there is no time. Other priorities take over.

As CHI Health continues to build a culture of excellence, fellowship is becoming a priority. Building bonds of friendship improve patient care because people work better together. Last Saturday night, my wife and I spent some quality time with our CHI Health Cardiology friends and their spouses. I appreciated this opportunity, because even though I graduated 14 years ago, I’m relatively new to Omaha. Time spent playing Family Feud, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader and Trivial Pursuit translated to fun, laughs and relationship building. I was thrilled my wife could get to know some of the people I work with.

I learned some interesting tidbits as well. Tara Whitmire is an advanced practice nurse who recently got accepted to the University of Iowa DNP program. The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is an advanced-level practice degree that focuses on the clinical aspects of nursing rather than academic research. The curriculum for the DNP degree generally includes advanced practice, leadership, and application of clinical research related to nursing. She starts in June and is going to get her doctorate degree. She is also really good at Family Feud. Jill Ogg-Gress has already completed her training and is a doctor of nursing practice. Dr. Joseph Thibodeau, in addition to his impressive bio, used to moonlight as an e-Focus physician while he was in training.

I am just so impressed with this group of people. They are down to earth, extremely modest, yet so well educated. There is no pomp and circumstance. And perhaps this is why they are such phenomenal clinicians with great rapport with their patients.

Did they learn anything about me? You betcha! While I was defining CPR, it came up that I set up two successful pancreas transplant programs in the Dakotas, a legacy I am quite proud of but don’t usually mention.

Bottom line: Make time for fellowship. Whether it is with your co-workers, your family, or your friends, I’m sure you’ll have a lot of fun!

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