ACH Member Spotlight

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The Academy of Communication in Healthcare's Member Spotlight feature allows members of the community to know each other beyond the CVs, publications and presentations. Each month a diverse member of ACH will be chosen to write their responses to questions they select to reveal more about themselves as people.  It is the Academy's hope that learning about an individual may spark connections that blossom via email, phone conversations or in-person meetings at conferences, courses and forums.  We welcome your feedback on this enterprise and nominations for future Spotlight Members.

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  • 2023

I. Carol Nwelue, MD, FACP, SFHM

Internal Medicine Physician Leader
Fort Worth, Texas

Dr. Ijeoma Carol Nwelue is an Internal Medicine Physician Leader in Hospital Medicine. She has been recognized for innovation, leadership, health informatics, and initiatives in the Provider-Patient relationship space. Dr. Nwelue’s responsibilities also include partnerships to provide medical student education, as well as medical and pharmacy resident education.

Dr. Nwelue is a dedicated healthcare advocate who believes the combination of educating patients and teaching healthcare providers how to successfully connect with patients can lead to improvements in the Provider-Patient relationship, and ultimately healthcare outcomes.

Why did you join ACH as a member? I was very excited to find a place to share best practices regarding communication in healthcare. I enjoy learning from like-minded colleagues around the world!

What was your earliest ambition? I wanted to be either a lawyer or a doctor as a child. My mother is a nurse and my father initially immigrated to the United States from Nigeria to attend medical school. By the age of 8, I recall making the decision to pursue a career in medicine after watching a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show talk about her experience in creating a mobile healthcare unit.

What was the best career move? My best career move was to put aside my inherent introverted nature to raise my hand during a Society of Hospital Medicine Pre-Course Session. I spoke up to share some of the processes I had developed as a new medical director for my team. It was there that I met Phyllis Maguire, Executive Editor of Today’s Hospitalist who has introduced me to some amazing people and provided me with an opportunity to share my experience as a leader in medicine.

Who is the person you would most like to thank and why? I would like to thank my parents who my younger brothers and I to be kind, respectful, and truly care for others (especially others in need). I have held to these principles throughout my life. I am blessed to have the opportunity to share the many benefits of developing trusting relationships through communication. I enjoy teaching best practice communication skills to caregivers and monitoring for improvements in interactions.

Summarize your personality in three words. compassionate, thoughtful, driven

Where are you the happiest? At home watching a movie with friends and family, snuggled up with my kids and husband.

Katherine Chartier, PhD

Instructional Design Consultant, Indiana University School of Medicine
Lafayette, IN

As an educator and instructional designer with over 10 years of experience ranging from community college to medical education, Dr. Chartier is a learning experience leader. Strong systems-thinking skills allow me to identify learning and assessment needs, consider multiple effective solutions, and recommend empirically informed instructional/training practices within the constraints and opportunities of complex systems. Over the past 3 years at IUSM, I have led the development of a Health Systems Science (HSS) course called Preparing for Professional Practice (PPP), partnered with colleagues to integrate anti-racism and HSS threads into our existing curriculum, and participated in the development of a new Health Equity, Advocacy, and Leadership competency. I am currently developing a strategic assessment plan to ensure a system is in place for capturing various types of data from key assessments, determining tools and mechanisms to track students’ competency development across time, and considering how to build an assessment system structure that can provide needed data to various stakeholders. As a researcher, I enjoy leveraging the strengths of both qualitative and quantitative data in my work but find my projects often coming back to assessment or instrument development projects.

Why did you join ACH as a member? In 2020-2021 a small cohort of IUSM colleagues partnered with ACH to create Achieving Inclusivity in Medicine (AIM), an orientation program for matriculating medical students. This partnership lead to 3 of us participating in the RCF program in 2022 which enabled us to facilitate the AIM program independently in 2023. We have enjoyed a rich and rewarding relationship with ACH and becoming a member was a natural stepping stone to deepening that relationship.

What was your earliest ambition? If you had asked childhood me, I would have said a mom, doctor, or teacher.

What was the best career move? During my undergrad my advisor told us the best thing he did in grad school was take extra stats/research methods courses. I scoffed at the time and thought that was a crazy idea. But, my learning disposition led me to exactly the same path. During my PhD work I pursued and obtained both qualitative and quantitative research certificates.

What is your guiltiest pleasure? Popcorn, I can eat it forever and in larger quantities than is probably necessary.

Summarize your personality in three words: Connector, Designer, Innovator.

How would you spend your favorite day? With people I love just chilling, cooking/eating, and/or exploring a hiking trail or kayak run.

Where are you the happiest? With family, friends that are like family, or my religious community/family.

Stewart C. Alexander, PhD

Associate Professor, Purdue University
West Lafayette, IN

Dr. Alexander examines how medical providers communicate with patients to help patients better understand their illnesses, choose effective treatment options, and improve their overall health and well-being. His expertise is in developing communication assessment systems that quantify the content of conversations between providers and their patients. His work focuses on oncology and end-of-life conversations, and adolescent health. He is currently working on studies examining the healthcare experiences of gender-minority adolescents and Asian American adolescents.

Why did you join ACH as a member? I wanted to connect with other researchers doing medical communication. Before ACH, I felt like I was alone in this research, and ACH helped me make connections and have long conversations at conferences about ways to analyze talk.

What was your earliest ambition? I wanted to be a radio DJ. I was a Dj for a few years before graduate school. When I was at Duke, I was the Programming Director for their radio station.

What was the best career move? Working at Duke University in General Medicine

Who is the person you would most like to thank and why? Two people: James Tulsky and Kathryn Pollak. Both were generous mentors and helped me create a successful career in patient-provider communication.

What poem, song, or passage of prose would you like mourners to hear at your funeral? I can’t pick one: First Day of My Life by Bright Eyes, Space Boy by The Smashing Pumpkins, Kiss Off by Violent Femmes, Sabotage by Beastie Boys or Still Breathing by Green Day

What is your guiltiest pleasure? 80s Horror Movies

Summarize your personality in three words: Resilient, Curious, Passionate

Where are you the happiest? In Japan, climbing mountains and staying at Monasteries.

Yvonne Caro Caro, MFA

Senior Standardized Patient Educator, DGSOM at UCLA
Los Angeles, CA

A dyed-in-the-wool Bruin, Yvonne Caro Caro joined DGSOM as a Standardized Patient after completing her MFA at UCLA in 1998. Since becoming an SP Educator in 2006, she has trained actors and developed, taught and administered courses for the SP Program. As the Senior SP Educator, Yvonne draws on deep institutional knowledge of DGSOM and UCLA to support faculty, students and staff in their important work. She completed UCLA’s Professional Development Program as a member of the class of 2020. Outside of DGSOM, Yvonne practices as a registered Yoga-Alliance Teacher and Certified Yoga Therapist and has acted in theatre, film and television in her native Puerto Rico and the U.S. for over 30 years. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Acting from UCLA’s School of Theatre, Film and Television and a Bachelor’s in Theater from The University of Puerto Rico.

Why did you join ACH as a member? I am excited to belong to a community interested in and devoted to improving communication in healthcare. I firmly believe that better communication with our healthcare professionals will lead us to having healthier lives.

What was your earliest ambition? To be a stage, film, and TV actress.

What was the worst mistake in your career? When I didn’t even try.

What was the best career move? My best career move has been to follow the signs in life. When I felt I needed more training, I did the MFA in acting, when I felt that my body benefitted from yoga, I went ahead and studied for many years to get certified as a teacher and Yoga Therapist. All these things have contributed to me becoming the best SP Educator that I can be.

Who is the person you would most like to thank and why? My mother, for never, ever giving up on me, for supporting me, guiding me and cheering me on up until her last moments.

What book should every healthcare provider read? “Peace is Every Step” by Thich Nhat Hanh. I suspect that many healthcare providers are excellent at taking care of others, but not usually themselves. This book is a very simple guide to awareness and meditation. I would also suggest: Yoga, The Path to Holistic Health by BKS Iyengar.

What is your guiltiest pleasure? Sweets! Cakes! Chocolate! Ice cream!

Summarize your personality in three words: Sunny, Kind, Passionate.

How would you spend your favorite day? At home in Rincon, Puerto Rico with my family!

Where are you happiest? On stage, performing. Presenting a workshop for ICCH in my home country, Puerto Rico, is definitely an unexpected surprise that life has given me. And I am honored to be a part of it!