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Faculty Focus: Kimberly Staffey, MD

Date: Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Department of Internal Medicine

What is your hometown?

Murphysboro, Illinois 

When did you join the University of Iowa faculty?

I was appointed in 2010.

I first arrived at the University in 2004 to do a fellowship in Cardiology, followed by an advanced imaging fellowship in Cardiology, 2007 - 2008.  I left for a while to practice in St. Louis and returned to UIHC in 2010.

How/when did you become interested in science and medicine?

I have always been interested in science and medicine. 

After I finished high school, I became interested in healthcare.  My paternal grandmother who was a nurse encouraged me to go into healthcare.   Her death affected me greatly; it was a catalyst for me choosing healthcare.  Although I was only a teen, I remember wishing I could have helped her.

As an undergraduate, I became interested in medicine and felt that Medicine would be a rewarding career for me.  Everyone around me was very supportive. At that time, I was the first in my family to seek and complete a post baccalaureate degree. 

Looking back, playing softball in college prepared me for becoming a clinician in academic medicine.  I was a catcher.  That position actually orchestrates a great deal on the field and taught me leadership skills. 

What interested you to pursue a career in Internal Medicine?

I selected Internal Medicine because it provides a depth and breadth of knowledge to help people.

I selected cardiology because I had several relatives with heart disease.  I often heard about their heart problems.  From those conversations, I became interested in the heart and the physiology, and pathophysiology of the heart.  

After I began caring for people with cardiovascular disease, I knew this was what I was meant to do.  Caring for really sick people in the ICU just seemed to fit with my interests, skills and abilities.

Is there a teacher or mentor who helped shape your career?

My grandparents.  My parents for their continuous support; they encouraged me to go out and to try things.  My grandparents and parents provided the foundation for me to be confident.

I had many positive experiences in medical school.  There were many people who helped shape my career.

How or why did you choose the University of Iowa?

Dr. Dinesh Jagasia, my fellowship director was wonderful.  He convinced me to come here.  He said all the right things.  The program offered everything I needed and wanted.  I never looked back. 

Once here, Dr. Dick Kerber mentored me and gave me opportunities. And, I met and learned from so many other wonderful people as well. 

The University of Iowa’s faculty members are united to provide exceptional patient care while advancing innovations in research and medical education. How does your work help translate new discoveries into patient centered care and education?

One way is by staying abreast of the newest technology, and seeking ways to be innovative. 

  • When the opportunity arose to renovate the ICU cardiac unit, my team and I were committed to creating a unit entirely dedicated to patient care.  We spent time considering how the physical surroundings could advance and support the healing and wellbeing of our patients and families.  Our goals were to insure that the unit was aesthetically pleasing to the families and functional for the care teams.  Our focus is wholly on our patients and their families.
  • Another commitment I enjoy is administration.  I am now the Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs for Internal Medicine.  

Being a clinician and administrator simultaneously makes me more effective in both roles.

What kinds of professional opportunities or advantages does being a faculty member at an academic medical center provide?

This is a rich environment for on-going learning and for being challenged. The trainees, nurses, and other allied health professionals foster an environment that promotes mastery in skills required to be an effective and compassionate clinician and administrator.

Please describe your professional interests.

I am a clinician first.  That is who I am.  My aim is to offer high quality care.  My other interest is administration.  I believe I can make a positive contribution by being an effective administrator.

I am a better administrator because I am also a clinician. 

What led to your interest in your field?

Clinically, my interest in the physiology and pathophysiology of the heart was probably due to family members having cardiology problems.

Relative to administration, I enjoy problem solving and making things better for people,

How does working in a collaborative and comprehensive academic medical center benefit your work?

Collaboration heightens my work.  Through collaboration, care to the individual is more effective and the healthcare system is much more productive.   Everything is better because of collaboration.

What are some of your outside interests?

I like to run and bike.  I enjoy spending time with my family and friends.  Jeddah, my miniature schnauzer, is very important to me.

Do you have an insight or philosophy that guides you in your professional work?

Go to work.  Work hard.  Be fair.  Be kind.  Be accountable for what you are supposed to do.   If people are being mistreated or treated unfairly, say something. 

Make things better.

If you could change one thing about the world (or the world of medicine/science), what would it be?

Insure that people have the healthcare they need, and the opportunity to lead healthy, productive lives.

World-wide, insure that everyone feels safe and secure.

What is the biggest change you've experienced in your field since you were a student?

Today, we have the ability to treat many more complex cardiac conditions.  The field is expanding: there are a variety of treatments, protocols and equipment.

What one piece of advice would you give to today's students?

Be collaborative and open minded.  Be willing to work as a member of a team.  Be humble.  Take advice from those around you.

Being a physician is hard work.  Do it for the right reasons – the patients.

What do you see as "the future" of medicine/science?

We are and will be touching more patients electronically.   We are seeking ways to reach people as they wish - in their homes.  Healthcare is stretching and redefining the ways in which patients will be served.  Physicians will learn and have the skills necessary to care for patients in their homes.

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