Tom Coles (M.D. 1956), 77, was the second-oldest finisher in the Detroit International Marathon in October. He participated in the marathon — his 18th so far — to raise awareness for NARSAD, a charity which supports mental health research at the U-M and elsewhere. Coles also holds a master’s degree in hospital administration from the U-M; he retired from the medical policy department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan in 1998. He resides in Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan.
William B. Comai
William B. Comai (M.D. 1961) and his wife, Barbara, are the recipients of the 2008 Dale G. Griffin Healthcare Leadership Award from the Battle Creek Health System (BCHS). The annual award recognizes exemplary contributions that improve the quality and accessibility of health care in the local community. Comai practiced surgery in Battle Creek, Michigan, for four decades, retiring from the BCHS in 2007. He previously served as president of the Calhoun County Medical Society and is currently a trustee of the Southwest Rehabilitation Foundation and president of the board for the Calhoun County Department of Human Services.
Jeffrey R. Marcus
Jeffrey R. Marcus (M.D. 1994) has been named assistant vice-chair for pediatric surgical affairs in the Department of Surgery at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. He will represent 13 surgeons in eight surgical sections and hopes to become a bridge between the departments of surgery and pediatrics and the medical center. Marcus, a plastic surgeon, serves as surgical director for Duke Children’s Hospital, director of the cleft team and the Craniomaxillofacial Trauma Program, and as an assistant professor at Duke University Medical School.
Jason Hwang (M.D. 1999) has co-authored The Innovator’s Prescription: A Disruptive Solution for Health Care (McGraw-Hill, January 2009). Hwang and his co-authors — Harvard business professor Clayton M. Christensen and health care management expert Jerome H. Grossman, M.D. — apply the business theory known as “disruptive innovation” to suggest ways to reduce health care costs while improving quality, accessibility, convenience and safety. Their work has recently been featured in Forbes and the Wall Street Journal. Hwang resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Courtesy of Janet Baum
By the time she was a senior in high school, Karyn D. Baum (M.D. 1995) was so tired of being asked if she wanted to be a doctor like her mother that she wrote her application essay for MIT on why she didn’t.
But then Janet K. Baum (M.D. 1969, Residency 1973) got a call from her daughter during orientation: “She said, ‘Mom, is it okay if I do a double major in biology and pre-med?’ And I, of course, said very quietly, ‘Whatever you want, dear,’ and hung up the phone and did a dance.” What Janet couldn’t have known was that in 1995 her daughter would graduate from the same medical school she did, making them, as far as can be determined, the first and only mother-daughter medical alumnae combination in U-M history.
Janet’s son Kenneth also is an M.D., having earned medical and law degrees at Yale; he practices pharmaceutical law in California. When a friend of his passed out at Kenneth’s wedding, “They yelled for Dr. Baum and all three of us came running,” says Janet. “Karyn, who’s an internist, turned around and said, ‘I’m the only primary care doctor here.’ ” Her youngest, Alex, is a high school junior who so far likes computers more than medicine.
The gene pool got a lot of reinforcement from early conditioning. Karyn was born when Janet was a senior in medical school. “Four out of the 20 women in our class had babies that year,” says Janet, “which freaked the medical school out.” Kenneth came along four years later, when his mom was a senior resident.
“I was dragged to the hospital in the middle of the night when I was a kid and mom was on call,” says Karyn. “She was a single parent for a while so she couldn’t exactly leave me and my brother at home alone. She’d get us up and bundle us up and I’m sure she was thinking, ‘Grr, I’m tired,’ but it was a huge adventure for us. I probably accidentally learned that a hospital is the best place to be in the world.”
Both mother and daughter also learned that educating future doctors is an appealing occupation, too.
Janet, a radiologist, is currently director of breast imaging at the Cambridge (Massachusetts) Health Alliance, a group of three “safety net” hospitals that focus on caring for indigent, racially diverse, under- and uninsured patients. She also devotes a great deal of her time to teaching medical students and teaching radiology basics to primary care residents at Harvard, with which the alliance is affiliated.
Karyn was among the first physicans to earn a master’s degree in education and is now an associate professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota, where she also serves as special assistant to the dean, concentrating on curriculum development for the medical school. Her particular passion is interprofessional teamwork and education, enabling health care practitioners who have traditionally been educated in “silos” — doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, public health professionals — to transcend those boundaries for the good of the patient.
She compares it to having the sections of a symphony orchestra practice in separate rooms, coming together only for performances. “There’s been increasing interest in having doctors better understand the systems within which they practice and how those systems affect patient care,” she says. “I think people are beginning to really believe that part of being a physician is improving the system in which you work.”
Which is what the Baums have been doing for years. —JEFF MORTIMER