The University of Colorado School of Medicine honored seven clinicians with the school’s first-ever Distinguished Clinician Awards on Tuesday.
Dean John J. Reilly, Jr., MD, and Senior Associate Dean of Faculty and Chief Well-being Officer Lotte Dyrbye, MD, MHPE, hosted a celebration where the Distinguished Clinicians were recognized by peers and school leaders for their exemplary contributions in caring for patients.
“We’re an academic medical center, so we pay a lot of attention to education and research, but at the end of the day we have a very important mission in providing outstanding clinical care and, objectively we do an excellent job of doing that,” said Reilly. “Our honorees tonight are people who have been nominated and recognized by their peers as exceptional among the exceptional.”
The 2023 Class of Distinguished Clinicians
Advanced practice provider awardees:
- Denise Abdoo, PhD, CPNP, MSN, assistant professor of pediatrics.
- Keri Halsema, RN, NP, MSN, senior instructor of medicine.
- Glen Peterson, RN, DNP, ACNP, associate professor of medicine.
- Rachel Davis, MD, associate professor of psychiatry.
- Manali Kamdar, MD, associate professor of medicine.
- Michael McDermott, MD, professor of medicine.
- David Partrick, MD, professor of surgery.
After a reception and dinner in the Elliman Conference Center in the Anschutz Health Sciences Building, each Distinguished Clinician was introduced by colleagues who recognized their contributions and personal characteristics that have profound impacts on patients, families, and fellow clinicians.
Keri Halsema, NP, MSN, RN, senior instructor of medicine, was described as an “experienced clinician with an incredible wealth of knowledge and extensive clinical experience in this very tough field,” at the same time she was recognized for her attention to patients.
“She is truly known best for going the extra mile for our patients,” said Angela Falco, FNP, MPH, senior instructor in medicine. “Keri gets to know her patients and supports them through their entire bone marrow transplant journey. She listens to their concerns, she asks the tough questions, and follows through to ensure that the patient gets the most out of their lives whether they are winning their battle with cancer or they are going to be succumbing to it.”
Emphasizing that point, Falco read from a nomination letter from a patient, Judy Golden, who described how Keri’s care made a difference: “My caregiver – Craig, my husband – and I appreciated Keri’s effort to verbally and with highlighted responses (stars, heart, circling, underlining each result) what blood results were improving. She always looked for alternative treatments for my symptoms when another arose. Once I was back home, Keri was always just a phone call or email away when I had a question about my new immune system.”
Glen Peterson, DNP, ACNP, RN, associate professor of medicine, was honored by Clay Smith, MD, professor of medicine and director of the blood disorders and cell therapies center.
“I’ve never seen him get unhappy – maybe once – in 10 years,” Smith said. “He helped lead us through COVID, which was very tough for our patients. He was always there, steadfast. So, this is really a huge honor. I’ve been the director of this program for over a decade, and this is my last official act and I really can’t think of a better way of going out than to say thank you to Glen for all he has done.”
Each Distinguished Clinician received tributes that highlighted their expertise and that emphasized the personal connections they make.
Michael McDermott, MD, professor of medicine, was recognized as so expert in his field of endocrinology, that he was consulted when President George H.W. Bush was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and Grave’s disease, said Brian Haugen, MD, professor of medicine and head of the Division of Endocrinology.
David Partrick, MD, professor of surgery, is not so secretly known as Dad among his younger colleagues and for providing “Dad consults” in the middle of the night when they call him.
Rachel Davis, MD, associate professor of psychiatry, who is an expert in obsessive-compulsive disorder and deep brain stimulation, was hailed by Moksha Patel, MD, assistant professor of medicine, for the care she provided to him.
“Dr. Davis is one of the few providers in the country to provide deep brain stimulation for treatment-resident OCD. I am fortunate enough to be one of those patients,” Patel said. “Many providers seek Dr. Davis to discuss complex cases, risk management, and ethical norms. She also passionately advocates for expansion of insurance coverage for psychiatric care to ensure that all of her patients get the care that they need.
“I can honestly say that meeting Dr. Davis as a patient is one of the biggest blessings of my life. She has the perfect mixture of expert knowledge, empathy, and perhaps most importantly and unrelenting perseverance to continuously strive to improve the lives of her patients.”
Denise Abdoo, PhD, CPNP, MSN, assistant professor of pediatrics, was recognized for her care for child survivors of sexual assault.
“You will never meet a stronger advocate for the vulnerable populations that we serve as a hospital, and that our campus community serves,” said Andy Sirotnak, MD, professor of pediatrics. “Her vulnerability and her ability to bring that out in others in times of absolute crisis and trauma is matched only by her tenacity, her strength, and her ever-present empathy for her patients. Her service to others is balanced with self-care and a steadfast attention to the wellness of herself and for our entire team. She is a baker, a dog owner, and an outdoors person, so she keeps our glucose and our spirits high, even in the hardest times.”
Manali Kamdar, MD, associate professor of medicine, sets an example for her colleagues, said Sunita Sharma, MD, associate professor of medicine.
“On an individual provider level, the clinical care provided by Dr. Kamdar combines the best of her incredible understanding of care among bone marrow patients and a clear and unwavering commitment to the human elements of care for both patients and caregivers alike,” Sharma said. “Dr. Kamdar combines the best of all characteristics in clinicians: an incredible intellect, exceptional communication skills, and a level of compassion that is incomparable. These are all qualities that we should hope to emulate.”
The Distinguished Clinician awards were bestowed by the School of Medicine for the first time this year, with plans to establish the honor as an annual event.
2023 Distinguished Clinician Awardees
Advanced Practice Providers
Denise Abdoo, PhD, CPNP, MSN
Denise Abdoo, PhD, CPNP, MSN, assistant professor of pediatrics, helped create the state’s only pediatric Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program, where she has recruited, educated, and mentored nurses in addition to developing policies, curricula, and protocols.
She has served on multiple committees at Children’s Hospital Colorado, including the Chief Nursing Officer search committee and the Magnet Status Steering Committee. She was elected to the Medical Staff Board and is on the Transparency Advisory Council. She has seven years of service on the Advance Practice Nurse Credentialing Review Board and has served as chair of the committee.
“Despite working in a field that often interfaces with challenging social and societal circumstances, Dr. Abdoo demonstrates empathy, sensitivity, and respect for the children and families that she cares for as well as the broad array of professionals that she works with,” writes Kathryn Wells, MD, associate professor and section head for child abuse and neglect.
Keri Halsema, RN, NP, MSN
Keri Halsema, RN, NP, MSN, senior instructor of medicine, led the development of the bone marrow transplant survivorship program, ensuring that post-transplant patients maintain appropriate continuity and management of complications and late effects of treatment. This initiative has improved patient experience, and it has improved quality-of-life and transplant outcomes.
She also contributes to the stem cell transplant committee and disease state teams. She has developed guidelines to monitor and treat viral infections and to manage acute and chronic graft vs. host disease. In all cases, she educates colleagues on transplant-related topics and presents data locally and regionally.
“Keri is always willing to help a colleague in need. She’ll volunteer to take a patient from your schedule if you fall behind, or provide consultation when you feel stuck in your decision making. She knows how to lighten the mood of any room with a warm or funny statement, and I feel energized when she is around. She is the first to raise her hand when we need volunteers on a clinical project, and she cheers the loudest for other providers’ successes,” writes Heather Knowles, PhD, PA-C, MS, assistant professor of medicine.
Glen Peterson, RN, DNP, ACNP
Glen Peterson, RN, DNP, ACNP, associate professor of medicine, is an authority on the management of inpatients with hematologic malignancies and those receiving stem cell transplantations. Peterson has built one of the largest advanced practice provider programs at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, training, recruiting, and staffing dozens of APPs who now run day-to-day operations of the program. He is co-director of the ~45 Advanced Practice Providers (APPs) in the Division of Hematology and directs their education, training, and quality assurance/quality improvement activities.
He has directly mentored trainees, including nursing and physician assistant students, and others considering health care as a career. Many of those trainees have been hired by the clinic and have become local and national leaders. Peterson has also participated in the Department of Medicine’s Faculty Development Advisory Council and has represented the Division of Hematology and all APPs within the University system to address issues related to faculty promotion, mentorship, and resiliency.
“Dr. Peterson respects everyone and gives everyone the opportunity to be their best self. This includes patients and their families, as well as colleagues and consultants. We value hard work and the best possible outcomes for our patients, and Glen is the best example of these values I have ever seen. He works as long or as late as is necessary to ensure this job is done,” writes Daniel Pollyea, MD, professor of medicine.
Rachel Davis, MD
Rachel Davis, MD, associate professor of psychiatry, pioneered the OCD Surgical Program on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, providing affordable access to state-of-the-art care for patients with treatment-resistant OCD. Her advocacy led to insurance coverage for deep brain stimulation for a patient and resulted in additional insurance companies covering this care.
She previously had been medical director of the Student and Resident Mental Health Clinic for nearly a decade when the clinic consistently increased the annual number of total visits by trainees and developed several therapy groups with sub-specialists for specific care while also creating walk-in services for those in acute crisis.
“Dr. Davis is not only a stout advocate for her patients, but also has exceptional clinical expertise. She is compassionate, knowledgeable, and has developed a phenomenal team of mental health providers. As a physician myself, I strive to provide the thoughtful and kind care Dr. Davis provides to me and so many others on a daily basis,” writes Moksha Patel, MD, assistant professor of medicine.
Manali Kamdar, MD
Manali Kamdar, MD, associate professor of medicine and clinical director of the lymphoma service, has led the program to national prominence, resulting in annual 20% growth rate in new patient visits due in significant part to her reputation among patients and referring providers. Under her guidance, the outpatient clinic has improved access and decreased wait times for new patient visits.
Kamdar has also developed a robust program that provides access to immunotherapy, including cutting-edge CAR T-cell therapy. She is principal investigator of studies that have improved medical practice for these lymphoma patients. She also has collaborated to create programs in cardio-oncology and fertility preservation in patients treated for lymphoma. She worked with colleagues in other disciplines to improve diagnostic and prognostic approaches and elevate the quality of adjuvant care.
“She has provided care for campus leaders, many of our family members, and other prominent individuals as well as to many underserved persons, all with the same level of dedication, commitment to excellence and compassion. I can say without reservation to any family or colleague that Dr. Kamdar is the best physician I know for treating lymphoma should they need care and in fact, she has advised me on the best care for my brother who has CLL, a type of lymphoid malignancy. I personally know and have worked with many of the leading lymphoma doctors in North America and it was Dr. Kamdar that I turned to for my own family,” writes Clay Smith, MD, professor of medicine.
Michael McDermott, MD
Michael McDermott, MD, professor of medicine, maintains an exceptionally busy clinical practice and has led the eConsult program in the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Diabetes and the Diabetes Home and Remote Care program.
His expertise is well-regarded and sought by his peers. His book, Endocrine Secrets, has been published through multiple editions and is used by trainees, faculty, and endocrinologists in practice across the country. Dr. McDermott has recently written another book, Diabetes Secrets. He also publishes a daily email blast subscribed by hundreds of people called Daily Endocrine Tips. His expertise has been long recognized, including when he was asked to help care for President George H.W. Bush when he had hyperthyroidism.
“Despite his extensive full time clinical and administrative responsibilities, he takes every opportunity to mentor students, residents, and fellows. Often when I come into the office in the morning, he will be taking a call from a former trainee or answering an advice call to clinicians around the country who seek his guidance from near and far,” writes Micol Rothman, MD, professor of medicine and radiology.
David Partrick, MD
David Partrick, MD, professor of surgery, has served the School of Medicine throughout his training in residency and fellowship, and his career as an attending surgeon and professor. His colleagues describe him as a mainstay of support and wisdom within the Pediatric Surgery Department at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
Partrick is the director of surgical endoscopy for infants and children. He is known for being willing to do any job to help the team, including assisting the operating room staff in moving patients or teaching nursing and medical students. He is willing to share his knowledge and lend a hand when needed. While being a dependable clinical colleague, he maintains a high rating from patients for compassionate and excellent care.
“In the operating room, he imparts his decades of wisdom and excellent surgical skills into complicated surgical situations without overrunning our own decision making or ownership of our patients. His is the most requested opinion in the department of surgery, especially in difficult and challenging cases,” write seven surgery residents in their nomination letter.