Edje accepted as ELAM Fellow

Becomes the latest College of Medicine faculty member in the prestigious program

Five years ago, Lou Edje, MD, did not feel well while driving home on the evening she received her master of health professions education degree at the University of Michigan.

“I pulled into the emergency department and asked them to rule out pulmonary emboli,” she recounts. “Come to find out I had multiple clots in both lungs. That changed my perspective on life overnight. Every day since then has been a bonus day.”

Since then, Edje says she has tried to make the most of every “bonus day.” When she rests, she disconnects completely to replenish herself, usually through her favorite activities of painting, calligraphy, watching British TV and spending time with her family and friends.

But when she’s working, she wears many hats, somehow finding the time to simultaneously be associate dean for graduate medical education, a practicing physician in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, a mentor for residents and fellows, serving on numerous committees at the College of Medicine and UC Health, and supporting professional organizations, including the American Medical Association Council on Medical Education and the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education’s Family Medicine Residency Review Committee.

For the next year, she will add one more activity to her portfolio: this month she begins a yearlong fellowship in the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine® (ELAM) fellowship program.

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 top leadership positions.

Edje says she felt “sheer delight” when informed she had been selected into this year’s class of fellows.

portrait of Dr. Lou Edje

Lou Edje, MD. (Photo by Colleen Kelley/UC Creative + Brand)

“I have great friendships with, and respect for, some of the wonderful ‘ELUMNI’ upon whose shoulders I stand here at UC, like the inimitable Dr. Elizabeth Leenellett, whom I knew 30 years ago in medical school; the scholarly powerhouse that is Dr. Sally Santen, whom I met while I was doing my MPHE; Dr. Evie Alessandrini, who I met and instantly connected with during my interview for my current position; and the brilliant Dr. Irene Hamrick, a font of knowledge who I have known from our own Department of Family Medicine, just to mention a few,” Edje says, rattling off the names of past ELAM fellows.

Edje is now the 25th College of Medicine faculty member selected for the prestigious program since 1997. There have been only six classes since the program began in 1995 when the college has not had a faculty member participating. This is the ninth consecutive year the college is represented.

Edje calls herself “a master adaptive learner” and says she acknowledges her gaps and figures out how to fill them with what aligns with her own personal goals and those of the college and UC Medical Center. She constantly assesses how new skills are helpful and adjusts by incorporating them into her existing toolbox.

“ELAM is a whole menu of skills for my toolbox and strong women who can teach me to use them,” she adds.

She is eager and “can’t wait to hit the ground running” to connect with and learn from the ELAM women leaders she will come in contact with at the ELAM program throughout the coming year, and believes that she will gain additional skills to help develop the teams she now works with. The connections she makes also will help broaden her operations, personal learning and strategic networks. Her final project for her fellowship will focus on empowering resident and fellow voices in health policy.

Advocacy and health policy are two of her passions.

During the last two years, Edje has been a speaker at more than 100 community or business events and on local and national news programs to discuss the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19 vaccinations to help dispel myths and, especially, to reassure minority communities of the safety of COVID vaccines. She also was an invited panelist discussing equitable COVID-19 vaccine access during a February 2021 three-day Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) virtual forum. Additionally, Edje volunteered and was accepted into a clinical trial at UC testing the Moderna vaccine.

“As a Black woman, I need to be able to articulate the importance of the trial to my patients,” Edje said at the time. “If I were a patient and having my doctor ask me to be in a trial, I would ask, ‘Why aren’t you in the trial?’”

Her decision to enroll in the clinical trials in 2020 also was helped after losing her stepmother to COVID a few months earlier.

When Edje talks about her role leading graduate medical education at UC, serving as designated institutional official responsible for more than 700 residents and fellows, she describes the “hat” she wears then as like a baseball cap composed of several wedges.

“Each wedge complements the other, they are synergistic,” she says. “One wedge is accreditation, which is making sure our programs are living up to the commitment they made to each resident or fellow who matched with them. One wedge is my role on the family medicine review committee for the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, which accredits the 732 family medicine residencies and their fellowships around the country. One wedge is doing medical education advocacy as a member of the Council on Medical Education, which interfaces with organizations across the spectrum of medical education to improve such things as the clinical learning environment, competency-based medical education and decreasing bias in assessment. All these wedges help me do my job as associate dean of GME better.”

She also has been closely involved with launching the new family medicine residency program at West Chester Hospital, which recently received full accreditation, and establishing West Chester Hospital as a sponsoring institution of its own residencies.

Edje says she wants to participate in the ELAM fellowship “to be the best Lou I can be and to change each space I’m in for the better.” She looks forward to the mentoring she will receive and to be able to return that by being the best mentor she can be.

“I’m grateful for the investment in me as an ELAM fellow and look forward to being exposed to the menu of opportunities that are yet unknown to me. I am excited to learn from others so I can help the stars of our future physicians rise steeply and brightly.”

She notes that people rarely take the time to appreciate the exceptional individuals the field of medicine allows people to be around. She also appreciates that a mentor is not always someone older than you.

“My growth mindset allows me to receive great advice and guidance from any number of credible people,” Edje say. “Having been on the admissions executive committee of the University of Michigan for a number of years, it became quite clear to me the diversity of applicants to medical schools includes those with prior careers in engineering, the arts, business and so on. I give no second thought to having a mentor, not mentee, younger than me for specific issues, as long as my mentee-mentor relationship does not interfere with their career goals.”

Edje came to UC in December 2019 from St. Luke’s Hospital in Maumee, Ohio, where she was the designated institutional official and an adjunct instructor in the University of Michigan Medical School’s Department of Family Medicine.

Moving with her family from Iowa to South Central Africa, Edje spent her formative years in a British boarding school in Malawi. She then spent a year in Colombia, South America, before returning with her family to Michigan, where she finished high school and began college at Michigan State University at the age of 16. She completed medical school in 1995 at the University of Michigan, serving as president of her class. Edje completed her family medicine training at Toledo Hospital, later serving seven years as the hospital’s family medicine residency program director. She was named Ohio Academy of Family Physicians 2012 Family Physician of the Year.

 

Past College of Medicine ELAM Fellows

2021-2022

Achala Vagal, MD (Department of Radiology)

Sally Santen, MD, PhD (Department of Emergency Medicine)

2020-2021

Irene Hamrick, MD (Family and Community Medicine)

2019-2020

Elizabeth Leenellett, MD (Emergency Medicine)

2018-2019

Tiina Reponen, PhD (Environmental and Public Health Sciences)

2017-2018

Maryam Fouladi, MD (Pediatrics)

2016-2017

Dawn Kleindorfer, MD (Neurology)

Christy Holland, PhD (Internal Medicine)

2015-2016

Denise Adams, MD (Pediatrics)

Mary Mahoney, MD (Radiology)

2014-2015

Patricia Mary Manning-Courtney, MD (Pediatrics)

2012-2013

Mercedes Falciglia, MD (Internal Medicine)

2011-2012

Evaline Alessandrini, MD (Pediatrics)

2010-2011

Melanie T. Cushion, PhD (Internal Medicine)

2009-2010

Shuk-mei Ho, PhD (Environmental Health)

2008-2009

Gurjit Khurana Hershey, MD, PhD (Pediatrics)

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

Lori Stark, PhD (Pediatrics)

1999-2000

Laura Wexler, MD (Internal Medicine)

1998-1999

Paula Hillard, MD (Pediatrics)

1997-1998

Sandra Degen, PhD (Pediatrics)

 

Feature photo by Colleen Kelley/UC Creative + Brand.