Stanford medical school staffers honored for spirit of dedication, leadership
Spirit Award winners are selected for their outstanding dedication, initiative, motivation, positive attitude and customer service. This year’s recipients are TACY ABBOTT FRAMHEIN, a program coordinator in the Department of Genetics, and CHARLENE ROTANDI, fellowship coordinator in the Department of Pediatrics.
The Inspiring Change Leadership Award, which goes to staff members who have implemented processes that improve the school, was given to TERESA BURK, an administrative associate in the Department of Radiology, and JACQUELINE GENOVESE, assistant director of the Medicine & the Muse Program.
Each winner will receive $3,000.
Tacy Abbott Framhein
Framhein really does need to be in two places at once. Balancing a position split between two programs means that she has to juggle two job descriptions in different locations while serving as point person for faculty, students and staff. She tends to the needs of 16 master’s degree students in the Human Genetics and Genetic Counseling Program from admission through commencement. And she recently switched to a 30 percent assignment as a program coordinator for the Medicine & the Muse Program in the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics.
“It’s both challenging and rewarding to be assigned a percentage of time for each position,” said Framhein. “It requires a lot of flexibility, because there are so many people who require different things for so many different projects.”
Framhein’s duties are nothing if not diverse, working at both the front lines and behind the scenes. She pulled together the pieces for a large National Institutes of Health grant and helped students launch the Stanford Genetic Counseling Student Interest Group by showcasing the group on the genetic counseling program website, coordinating an email account and booking rooms for regular meetings. Over the past four years, her job has involved coordinating schedules, organizing events and preparing educational material and documents for students.
“Tacy makes my job so much easier,” said KELLY ORMOND, professor of genetics and director of the master’s degree program. “She always thinks ahead and has great follow-up. She takes full responsibility for everything she does, taking the initiative and dedicating herself to delivering high-quality service.”
“Working with faculty and students who are involved in helping patients and improving medicine is incredibly satisfying,” Framhein said. “I’m proud to be part of something bigger.”
Many hematology/oncology fellows in the Department of Pediatrics are surprised by the amount of paperwork they need to do and accreditation details they need to follow. There are forms for credentialing, tracking hours, verifications, grant submissions, taxes, even vacations. Happily for the fellows, Rotandi knows the ropes. Not only does she manage their schedules and track their professional progress, she also monitors their emotional health.
“Working with children with cancer in the Bass Center can take a toll,” said Rotandi, who has been the department’s fellowship coordinator for three-and-a-half years. “Part of my role is to make sure they take adequate time for themselves and maintain a work-life balance. It’s an important part of helping them become physicians.”
Her day-to-day demands range from clarifying policies to ensuring attendance at educational conferences and and smoothing the way for visiting professors. She also helps to facilitate new fellowship training initiatives, schedules educational conferences, measures milestones and tracks the scholarly oversight committee process. Her primary concern, she said, is making the accreditation process meaningful for fellows — not just a set of hurdles to surmount.
“Charlene is a tireless supporter of graduate medical education both locally and nationally,” said ALLISON GUERIN, director of education programs administration in the Department of Pediatrics. “She is a constant resource of knowledge and does everything she can to improve our programs to better support our faculty, staff and trainees. She is the glue that holds everything together.”
“There’s lots of oversight and tracking involved,” Rotandi said. “But I’ve learned to create schedules to anticipate and prepare for potential issues and then look for opportunities to improve upon them. It’s like a big puzzle: You have to see the big picture but also take care of all the minutiae. And that’s easier when all the parts are in place.”
Teresa “Tracy” Burk
It started last spring with a series of classes about how to identify problems and measure change. An administrative associate in the Department of Radiology, Burk was asked to help improve the high turnover and low morale among her fellow support staff members. A survey distributed to the department’s 40 support staff showed an average satisfaction rate of only 5 on a scale of 1 to 10.
“People felt that there was no access to resources and that they didn’t know what was going on in the department,” said Burk, who worked at an environmental engineering company and taught sculpture before joining the department three years ago. “Support staff concerns were seen as an important issue to address.”
Over the next four months, Burk led efforts to raise that satisfaction score, building a system based on shared information and networking. She introduced a website called Rad Hub, which lists step-by-step protocols for everything from ordering lab coats to booking a conference room to acquiring a travel visa. The website was launched as a work in progress and continues to be updated on a regular basis.
“Tracy holds her team together through her exemplary optimism, undying energy and sincere desire for teamwork,” said JAKE MICKELSEN, interim quality improvement manager for Stanford Medicine. “She strives to understand the problem and creates deliverables that are well-thought-out and polished.”
Based on feedback from former radiology support staff, Burk established a “Rad Guru” program, in which staff members volunteer as go-to experts in specific areas, such as reimbursement, graphic design or site tours. Monthly team huddles allow different groups to take turns on project updates. Burk continues to distribute satisfaction surveys, and responses now average a solid 8.
“I can’t overstate how much of this is a team effort,” she said. “I think it works because the changes are based on peers helping peers. It helps keep the focus on what’s important to the support staff.”
For Genovese, sharing a personal story can be as therapeutic as prescription medicine. As assistant director of the Medicine & the Muse Program at the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, she creates, coordinates and teaches numerous courses, workshops and events to encourage medical school faculty, students, residents and staff to use the humanities as a tool for personal expression and better health care.
“The arts are a powerful tool for promoting better understanding between physicians and patients and a way to gain fresh perspective on health and medicine,” said Genovese, who joined the program almost three years ago after serving as associate vice president for communications and faculty relations at University of Texas Medical Branch, where she also received her master’s degree in medical humanities.
She manages academic courses, teaches writing and literature for Stanford students who are veterans or in the military, and leads a literature and medicine series for physicians at Stanford Health Care and for health professionals at San Francisco Veterans Affairs Health Care System.
She spearheaded a number of initiatives focusing on military-affiliated students and veterans, including Honoring the Ghosts, which featured campuswide events focusing on war and health, and she brought the Telling Project to Stanford, which featured students, alumni and staff with military experience. She also manages the Pegasus Writers Forum, in which physicians read works of poetry, nonfiction and fiction about their experience as physicians.
“She is a tireless advocate for the impact of the arts and humanities on our understanding of medicine,” said AUDREY SHAFER, professor of anesthesia at the Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Health Care System. “She is a powerful agent for change, an inspiration to those around her and a leader in new, impactful initiatives.”
This story was originally published on the Stanford Medicine News Center. Photos courtesy of Stanford School of Medicine.