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Alumni News: Dr Sliwa's Farewell

Posted By Dr. Jim Sliwa Give Now

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In April of 1987 Dr. Henry Betts, Chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation asked me to assume the role of Residency Program Director.  It was part request but more of an order.  You see in the previous two years two Program Directors had left the organization and I was the last person standing.  I knew very little about the residency requirements and when the program coordinator left soon after I took  the job I realized no one else in the organization did either. Fortunately, life was simple back then.  Program requirements were relatively simple and the administrative time required was minimal.  The clinical environment was also not burdensome. Sick patients didn’t come to Rehabilitation, length of stay was measured in months and consequently an admission was a relatively rare event. 

That was 30 years ago and as I step down as Program Director, I can’t help but marvel on how residency training and the learning environment has changed.  Now there are numerous defined and detailed program requirements, mandatory policies coupled with increased Institutional oversight. The volume of information residents are expected to learn has increased dramatically and the learning environment has become very complex.  Residents now care for sick patients with documentation requirements that are quite burdensome.  Their workday has no clear end and there is a continuous whirl of admissions and discharges.  But looking back I can’t help but also remember all the fun of residency training.   The string tie days, the glove shooting contests, the resident picnics, the holiday parties, the resident roasts, Thai food and of course the joy of watching residents learn.  However, most memorable are the 353 residents that have passed through this program over the past 30 years.  It has been an honor and a privilege to get to know you and work with you.  You have all become outstanding physicians and individuals that make us proud.  To have contributed to your success, even in some small way, is all I could ask for in my career.  I know I didn’t always get it right but please know I always intended to do so. 

This doesn’t come close to expressing my gratitude for the joy and happiness you have given me over the past 30 years but thank you from the bottom of my heart!

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