Building Collaboration in Medical Education

Dr. Waer (center) visiting Tuba Regional Medical Center’s telemedicine facility with Janet Major and Lynn Bedonie

Amy Waer, MD, professor of surgery and associate dean for medical education at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, has taken on a new major responsibility, as medical director of the Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP).

Her goal is to leverage all three roles to enhance medical education opportunities in rural Arizona. 

“I especially like having the opportunity to use my position as associate dean to work with telemedicine and link the two together,” said Dr. Waer, who was named ATP medical director in June.  

“What Ron (Ronald S. Weinstein, MD, ATP founding director) and his team have done is really amazing,” Dr. Waer said. “What I will be focusing on is expanding the educational piece. To do that, we all need to collaborate so much more.”

As associate dean for medical education, Dr. Waer oversees the UA College of Medicine – Tucson’s Rural Health Professions Program, so is familiar with the challenges and potential of medical education throughout rural Arizona.

She hopes to address both challenges and potential through distance-learning and other services available through ATP and its T-Health Institute in Phoenix, a facility widely used for distance learning and video-conferencing.

Amy Waer, MD receiving her “Telemedicine Blue” coat from Ronald S. Weinstein, MD during the July Arizona Telemedicine Council meeting.It’s all a win-win for ATP and both of the UA Colleges of Medicine, in Tucson and Phoenix, said Dr. Weinstein, who has known Dr. Waer since she graduated from the UA College of Medicine in Tucson in 1992, then completed her general surgery residency at the UA.

“We’re thrilled to have Amy join our program,” he said. “I’ve known her since she was a resident and I’ve been very impressed with her work. She sits on a number of very critical committees. She’s an outstanding teacher and has won many awards for her teaching.”

Earlier this month, Dr. Waer toured northern Arizona with colleagues Carlos Gonzales, MD, assistant dean for medical education and associate professor of family and community medicine at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson; Janet Major, ATP associate director for facilities; and Jonathan Cartsonis, MD, a 1993 graduate of the College of Medicine in Tucson, now associate professor of family, community and preventive medicine and director of the Rural Health Professions Program at the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix.

The tour was an opportunity for the four of them to catch up with – and express their appreciation for – the physicians in Flagstaff, Tuba City and Winslow who serve as preceptors for UA medical students. All three locations are connected to ATP. 

In addition, Dr. Waer and Dr. Cartsonis feel they have laid a solid foundation for collaboration from now on.

“We all need to collaborate so much more,” Dr. Waer said. “We need to bring everybody together, because we’re all trying to accomplish the same mission. Our road trip showed us how much more we can use telehealth and telemedicine in these different rural sites.”

Dr. Cartsonis agrees.

“It was refreshing when Amy reached out to me and asked if I wanted to go on this trip,” he said. “We’re all trying to solve the same challenges, and to do that independently makes no sense. When we put our heads together, we are much more effective. We can utilize resources more effectively. And we had great discussions about how we can collaborate more in the future.

“I have also wanted to make more use of telemedicine in our Rural Health Certificate of Distinction program, and now I see a way to do that.”

About the Author

Jane Erikson's picture

Jane Erikson joined the staff of the Arizona Telemedicine Program in April 2013. She was already familiar with the program, as she previously wrote about the program during her nearly 20 years of covering health care for the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. Jane has lived in Arizona most of her life and is a graduate of the University of Arizona.

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