By Shevaughn Marchese
To our collective surprise and delight, we were able to hold our resident graduation ceremony this year in person, not virtually! Residents, their families, and faculty members enjoyed a sunny outdoor event at the Luskin Conference Center on June 26, with a buffet lunch and presentation of awards.
Maxime Cannesson, MD, PhD, our department chair, opened the program with a warm welcome, a commentary on what a remarkable year this has been, and congratulations to all the graduates for their courage, hard work, and resilience. As always, our graduating residents recognized faculty anesthesiologists who have made notable contributions to the department’s education programs. Outstanding junior residents also received awards from the faculty.
For the second year in a row, on June 23 we hosted our annual Fellowship Graduation and Awards Ceremony via Zoom. With introductions by Vice Chair for Education Judi Turner, MD, PhD, the program included affectionate and sometimes humorous bios of our graduating fellows, written and delivered by their fellowship program directors. Read about all of our Class of 2021 residency and fellowship graduates and view their photos in our 2021 yearbook, and be sure not to miss the class photo album at the end!
The Dillon Award
Andrew Disque, MD, received the department’s Dillon Award for Outstanding Performance by an Assistant Professor, presented by the senior faculty. Harvey Rosenbaum, MD, introducing Dr. Disque, described him as an “outstanding clinical educator and mentor” who is a member of the Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology and Liver Transplant Anesthesiology teams, and Chair of the Equipment Committee. Dr. Disque’s professional activities are focused on advancing patient safety, including the writing of case reports and review articles targeted toward professional education. Our residents previously awarded Dr. Disque the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2019.
Dr. Rosenbaum explained that the Dillon Award is “designed to honor an Assistant Professor for their accomplishments and contributions to advancing our teaching, clinical, professional and scientific missions.” He described our Assistant Professors as “a remarkable and diverse team of individuals who represent the future of our specialty and whose present contributions are essential to our success.”
The Dillon Award is named after the first chair of Anesthesiology, John Bartley Dillon, MD. Dr. Rosenbaum noted that Dr. Dillon, in his early career, built a plethysmograph to accurately record finger pulsation. Initially trained in physiology, he transitioned to anesthesiology and later led the Anesthesia Teaching Service at Letterman Army Hospital during WWII. He was recruited to serve as UCLA’s first Chief of the Division of Anesthesiology, where he served from 1950-1972.
Jeffrey Rusheen, MD, presented the Olive View-UCLA Medical Center Resident of the Year Award to Andrew Sikorsky, MD, and applauded his outstanding performance and dedication to patient care. The second annual Medical Student Educator of the Year Award went to Albert Lee, MD, who was chosen from a competitive field of candidates. Presenting the award, faculty member John Shin, MD, described Dr. Lee as an outstanding teacher and mentor to our medical students.
Awards Presented by our Residents
Residency Program Director Jack Buckley, MD, introduced the 2020-21 Chief Residents, Azad Hirpara, MD, Jeffrey Kim, MD and Libing Wang, MD, and thanked them for their lasting contributions to the department in the area of resident recruitment. The outgoing Chiefs presented awards chosen by the residents.
Adrian Nava won the Perioperative Services Provider of the Year Award for his outstanding support as an anesthesia and perioperative services technician. Dr. Wang stressed that it takes a village to achieve our aim of excellence in care, including our dedicated anesthesia technical personnel. She described Mr. Nava as a true role model in his field. Olive View-UCLA faculty members Sachin Gupta, MD, and Maryetta Ovsepian, MD, each received an award for Affiliate Teacher of the Year. Dr. Wang described Dr. Gupta as a role model among UCLA alumni, and an exceptional anesthesiologist who is also immensely humble and personable. Dr. Kim lauded Dr. Ovsepian’s vast knowledge about and enthusiasm for regional anesthesiology, and commented that her teaching sparked his own interest in the field.
Three faculty anesthesiologists received awards for Excellence in Teaching: Lauren, Beck, MD, Elaine Boydston, MD, and Michael Wolfe, MD. Drs. Beck and Boydston also received awards as Teacher of the Month during this academic year. Dr. Wolfe received both the Dillon and Teacher of the Year awards in 2020.
Jason Lee, MD, received the prestigious “Golden Bear” award as Teacher of the Year. Dr. Hirpara thanked Dr. Lee for his dedication to resident teaching in the OR and didactic lectures, in addition to curriculum development and his work on the Education Committee.
Dr. Hirpara introduced the incoming Chief Residents, Ryan Gamlin, MD, Jacob Melendrez, MD, and Annie Tran, MD, and wished them success in the upcoming year.
Concluding the ceremonies, Dr. Cannesson and the chief residents presented a special thank-you award and video to Judi Turner, MD, PhD, who last year concluded a long, successful term as residency program director and has been promoted to Vice Chair for Education.
All the faculty and residents extended sincere thanks to the Education Office staff – Jessyka Delgado, Susan Kim, Lucelva Mendez, and Lucine Torosian – for their tireless dedication to and support of all our educational programs.
In the virtual fellowship graduation ceremony, Dr. Turner introduced each of the fellowship program directors in turn to share the graduates’ bios and their future plans.
Critical Care Medicine Anesthesiology Program Director Vadim Gudzenko, MD, reflected on the unprecedented critical care challenges the four fellows – Drs. Krisztina Escallier, Kasey Grewe, Melanie Kusonruksa, and James Madrian – faced as they trained during the COVID-19 pandemic, and their fearless attitudes in this environment.
Adult Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology Program Director Reed Harvey, MD, shared his gratitude for his warm relationships with the four fellows – Drs. Candy Ezimora, Sean Mofidi, Christine Stypula, and Andrew Wu – and appreciation of the opportunity to have such a fulfilling role as program director.
Liver Transplant Anesthesiology Program Director Christine Nguyen-Buckley, MD, shared the bios of Drs. Courtney Scott and Colby Tanner, and described the breadth of their experience in anesthesiology for abdominal transplants.
Obstetric Anesthesiology Interim Program Director Jason Hirsch, MD, introduced graduating fellow Krista Cascia, MD, and described her growth as a trainee and her decision to accept our offer to stay on as faculty.
Pain Medicine Fellowship Director Jakun Ing, MD, MPH, congratulated the six fellowship graduates: Drs. Brittany Aeschlimann, Jason Daughety, Elizabeth Feenstra, Frederick Li, Mark Motejunas, and Ava Socik. He shared humorous bios, and the fellows’ future plans.
Pediatric Anesthesiology Fellowship Program Director Wendy Ren, MD, FAAP, described Drs. Stephen Acosta and Tracie Lo as embodying “the virtues of the ideal pediatric anesthesiologist – dedicated, kind, always ready to greet you with a smile, and give their patients 110% every day.”
Regional Anesthesiology & Acute Pain Medicine Fellowship Director Eva Boyd, MD, shared a colorful description of the fellows’ daily experience, during which they could easily surpass their goal of 10,000 steps! She congratulated Drs. Gary Chan, Gregory Sheehan, and Kelsey Wang.
In closing the fellowship graduation program, Dr. Turner honored our dedicated Fellowship Programs staff, Lucine Torosian and Susan Kim, whose hard work has contributed so much to the fellows’ success.