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Hamrick named to ELAM Fellowship

Geriatrics expert is 22nd College of Medicine faculty member receiving an ELAM Fellowship

Irene Hamrick, MD, is the latest College of Medicine faculty member to be accepted into the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) program. She will be among a class of 64 who will begin the part-time fellowship in September 2020.

Hamrick is a professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. She also holds the Martha Betty Semmons Endowed Chair in Geriatric Medicine, is the director of the department’s Geriatrics Division, chief of the Office of Geriatric Medicine at UC and the inaugural section chief of Geriatrics, Palliative Care and Hospice Medicine at the Cincinnati Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center.

ELAM is for women faculty in schools of medicine, dentistry and public health. The program is dedicated to developing the professional and personal skills required to lead and manage in today's complex health care environment, with special attention to the unique challenges facing women in leadership positions.

“I am very excited, but also overwhelmed and humbled to be among all the prestigious women who have been through this program,” she says. “It’s so competitive. They had more applicants this year than ever before.”

woman with glasses, red shirt and black blazer

Irene Hamrick, MD, Department of Family and Community Medicine

“I’m so proud to be Dr. Hamrick’s colleague,” Tobias said. “She brings vision and a track record of accomplishments. Dr. Hamrick is a great reflection of our academic institution and a future national leader.”

Hamrick is eager to begin her ELAM fellowship and believes that what she learns will help advance her career and help geriatric patients.

“I would like to make a difference in health care, particularly in geriatrics care on a broader scale,” she says. “That has been my goal throughout my career. I’ve done strategic things throughout my career to get here, such as faculty development fellowships and the Leadership Conference at Harvard, to learn how to better integrate geriatrics into health care systems. I think I’ve been a strong educator for many years, and I’ve been developing my research skills because in academia you have to be strong in education, research and clinical care in order to be a good leader, administrator and clinical chair.

“I thought this would be an opportunity for me to do more good for the university, the region and geriatrics at large,” Hamrick added.

Hamrick is looking forward to networking with other women leaders and learning from them while at ELAM events. She plans to bring issues in geriatric care that she has encountered. For example, she says geriatricians often feel undervalued by health care systems which frequently do not see how well geriatricians improve the care of the elderly. She hopes that the program can help her make a better case in a fee-for-service setting for geriatric care.

Tobias added that Hamrick’s goal is to create a collaborative interdisciplinary teaching and research model across the College of Medicine, UC Medical Center, Cincinnati VA and southwest Ohio in addition to community senior living sites and Christ Hospital, where the department has its residency program.

“This would be a national model, co-created with community partners, to meet the needs of our expanding geriatric population. Participation in ELAM will enable Dr. Hamrick to network nationally and more importantly, be poised for a position of senior leadership within our academic health center to guide similar collaborations,” Tobias said.

Hemrick also has been working to launch a fellowship program in geriatric medicine and palliative care at UC and the VA. She leads a group of six faculty at UC and five at the VA. Her research includes 10 different initiatives, including aromatherapy.

Hamrick is proud to be the 22nd College of Medicine faculty member accepted into the 26-year-old ELAM fellowship program and feels it is very important for the College of Medicine to be represented. “It brings national recognition to the University of Cincinnati by being part of this. Graduates go on to accomplish a lot. What we bring back from ELAM helps improve the university in terms of patient care and teaching,” she says.

Hamrick is constantly running between the College of Medicine, the VA Medical Center and guiding her faculty’s patient care responsibilities in the community, although lately care has been via telemedicine because of the coronavirus pandemic. She hopes telemedicine will continue to be reimbursed after the pandemic subsides. “I hope it is because we have been pushing for it for a long, long time,” she says. “The problem is we haven’t been paid for it. Many times, direct patient care is not necessary when you’re just checking in on patients. This will make things so much more efficient and really decrease burnout in physicians.”

Geriatric medicine is at the center of everything she does.

“I like the challenge of having complex patients with multiple medications,” she says. “I just delve into the patient and feel I can improve their quality of life. It’s so rewarding and much more interesting.”

Challenge is nothing new to Hamrick. She overcame significant obstacles in becoming a physician.

Hamrick was raised in the Rhine River city of Wiesbaden, Germany. She married an American from North Carolina and had two children there. She immigrated to North Carolina, where his family lived, unable to speak English. Despite having earned a chemistry degree in Germany, she went back to school at Western Carolina University to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. She never expected to get accepted to medical school because of being a single parent and her initial deficiencies in English. But she took 18 to 24 credit hours per semester, finished her nursing degree in three years and went directly to medical school at the East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine.

How did she manage two degrees while raising two children? “You just spend the 24 hours you’re given the best you can. My children learned anatomy and biochemistry with me, and I did the best I could.”

College of Medicine ELAM Fellows

2019-2020

Elizabeth Leenellett, MD (Emergency Medicine)

Kelsey Logan, MD (Pediatrics)

2016-2017

Dawn Kleindorfer, MD (Neurology)

Christy Holland, PhD (Internal Medicine)

2015-2016

Mary Mahoney, MD (Radiology)

2012-2013

Mercedes Falciglia, MD (Internal Medicine)

Stella Davies, MBBS, PhD (Pediatrics)

2011-2012

Evaline Alessandrini, MD (Pediatrics)

2010-2011

Melanie Cushion, PhD (Internal Medicine)

2009-2010

Gurjit Khurana Hershey, MD, PhD (Pediatrics)

Shuk-mei Ho, PhD (Environmental Health)

2007-2008

Marsha Wills-Karp, PhD (Pediatrics)

2005-2006

Maria Britto, MD (Pediatrics)

2003-2004

Gail Slap, MD (Pediatrics)

2001-2002

Uma Kotagal, MBBS (Pediatrics)

2000-2001

Ardythe Morrow, PhD (Pediatrics)

Lori Stark, PhD (Pediatrics)

1999-2000

Jannette Collins, MD (Radiology)

Laura Wexler, MD (Internal Medicine)

1998-1999

Paula Hillard, MD (Pediatrics)

1997-1998

Sandra Degen, PhD (Pediatrics)