Tuesday, January 22, 2008

“When I heard the tragic news about Jim, I was devastated. Jim was a fellow in our sports and spine program when I was a senior resident at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Although I only knew Jim for one year while he was living in Chicago, I know that he made a dynamic impact on me and other residents in our program. Jim probably put in at least an extra 40 hours per week strictly for resident teaching. He was not required to put in all that extra time – he did it because he cared about the residents and he loved to teach. Listening to him teach made you want to learn and it made you want to be a better physician.

I keep thinking back to the time that I spent with Jim last year. There are a few distinct episodes that stick out in my mind. I would like share a few of those with you. When Jim started his fellowship at RIC, I was chief resident. Part of the responsibility that comes with that title includes scheduling all of the resident lectures. One of our lecture series, the “Sports and Spine” lectures, was primarily given by the residents to the other residents. It was kind of like residents teaching other residents. But, the first couple months of that lecture series was given by the fellows to make sure that all the fundamental concepts get covered thoroughly (and to make sure that the residents could see how these lectures should be done the right way and didn’t screw up too badly when we were on our own to give these lectures!). Now, you have to remember that the academic year starts in July and Jim had his PM&R boards coming up in August. These lectures were every Wednesday. So, basically, on Wednesdays from the beginning of July, Jim had the responsibility of giving a one hour lecture to the residents. Now, I knew in my mind that he had his boards coming up in a month and I felt so guilty asking him to take time away from his studying to give these lectures so that I can put it in the schedule. Never once did Jim complain that he does not have time for these lectures. Not once did he mention that he should be studying or doing something more productive. And every single lecture that Jim gave was outstanding and it was obvious that he put in several hours to prepare for these lectures. Not a single lecture was incomplete. Not a single question was left unanswered.

Another episode that sticks out in my mind has to do with Jim’s passion for teaching. Jim had basically written an entire course on electromyography while he was a resident in New Jersey and wanted to make sure that he continues to develop the course for the residents’ benefit. So, after a few meetings and after a few discussions, we were able to implement this course into our curriculum at RIC. Now, when I say that he developed this course – I mean he developed this course from scratch. He had designed a schedule, there was course material that he had written, he had written a self study guide, he had written self assessment questions, and the list goes on and on. Basically, there was a binder at least 3 inches thick with course material that he had written. As part of this course for the residents, he made a color copy of this material and gave every resident a binder. Why did Jim do this? Because he cared and because he genuinely wanted to make sure that all the residents learned. So, after I found out about all this, I was impressed. No fellow had ever taken that much effort into teaching the residents. The next time I ran into Jim I thanked him for everything that he was doing for the residents and I told him that I understand that making copies of all those binders must have been very expensive and he should give me the receipt so that he can be reimbursed. I mean, really, it was the least I could do. Jim refused and said it was not a big deal and he shrugged it off and said if it even helps one person, he has done something right. I don’t know if he realized how many people he helped with his efforts.

When Jim left RIC, so did I and the rest of my class. Everyone went their separate ways. Jim headed to Kansas City to join faculty there, Gary headed to Arkansas to become faculty there. My classmates went all over the country including California, New Jersey, Michigan, Indiana, Virginia, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Utah and few stayed in Chicago.

I distinctly remember thinking about Jim when I was leaving Chicago. I remember thinking to myself that I had never met anyone so genuine and good-hearted, not mention enthusiastic about medicine, passionate about teaching, smart and innovative. He was always talking about new research ideas that he wanted to answer one day. I knew that I was going to see him again one day at a future academy meeting and everyone in PM&R was going to know his name because he was going places.

It is times like these when you wonder how bad things can happen to good people. I don’t think anyone has an answer. Jim will always be lovingly remembered as a friend, teacher and colleague. “

Kavita Trivedi DO
RIC Grad

Pain Fellow, University of Michigan

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Kavita,

That is such a beautiful and touching tribute. Thank you

Gautam M said...

kavita, i was the sounding board for jim's electrodiagnostic handbook (and I designed the cover) so trust me when I say he spent ENORMOUS numbers of hours on developing and fine tuning it. You can rest assured knowing the fact that you thanked him had to have made his day...made his week.