Miller School Sends Big Team to Florida Medical Association Annual Meeting

An enthusiastic group of University of Miami Miller School of Medicine students, residents, faculty members and administrators attended the annual meeting of the Florida Medical Association in Orlando, and one student was honored for his research work at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Joshua D. Lenchus, D.O., associate professor of clinical medicine, anesthesiology and radiology at the Miller School, serves as speaker of the FMA House of Delegates and is a huge proponent of the FMA’s advocacy for physicians and the practice of medicine, its invaluable networking opportunities for students and faculty, its commitment to providing continuing medical education, and its encouragement of research through the poster session at the annual meeting.

“It provides a tremendous opportunity to really affect change and then have this 800-pound gorilla of an organization stand behind what’s going on,” said Lenchus, who is associate director of the UM/Jackson Memorial Hospital Center for Patient Safety and president of the Jackson Health System medical staff. “And for the students and residents, going to a meeting like this, where there are people from every specialty from all over the state, you could not find enough money to buy that kind of networking.”

Medical student Sze Kiat (Owen) Tan, who is vice president of the Miller School’s American Medical Association/FMA Chapter, won third place in the poster competition for his glioblastoma research.

“Glioblastoma multiforme is the most aggressive form of primary adult brain tumor, with a median survival of approximately 14 months, despite aggressive surgical resection followed by adjuvant therapies,” Tan said. “Under the guidance of Dr. Nagi Ayad of Sylvester and in collaboration with Drs. Ricardo Komotar and Michael Ivan, I have discovered an important biomarker for glioblastoma. We hope that in the future this biomarker could assist in identifying glioblastoma recurrence and facilitate measuring treatment response for patients suffering from glioblastoma and other brain cancers.”

Steven F. Falcone, M.D., MBA, executive dean for clinical affairs, chief executive of the UHealth clinical practice, and associate vice president for medical affairs, attended the meeting as a delegate to the FMA House of Delegates representing the Dade County Medical Association.

“Involvement of students and residents in organized medicine is important,” Falcone said. “It provides them an opportunity to appreciate the complexities and interplay of the health care community with the political landscape and provides them with a voice to impact changes in medical education and health care delivery.”

Miller School Dean Edward Abraham, M.D., and Joan St. Onge, M.D., senior associate dean for graduate medical education, took part in the annual meeting of the Florida Council of Medical School Deans, which was held at the same time.

Lenchus, who is also about to become president of the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association, hopes to keep advancing at the FMA because of the difference it has made for students, physicians, and the residents of Florida. A dramatic example was spearheaded by Hansel Tookes, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of medicine, who as a second-year Miller student convinced the FMA to seek legislation legalizing syringe exchange programs, which reduce the spread of HIV, hepatitis C and other diseases.

Today the University of Miami’s IDEA (Infectious Disease Elimination Act) Exchange offers clean syringes in exchange for used syringes and provides other life-saving services to injection drug users.

“The FMA provides an opportunity for anyone who’s interested in the policy, rule-making, legislative component, or interested in promoting their work, or interested in networking with other people,” Lenchus said. “As I move forward I would like to involve students, residents, fellows and early career physicians even more in the work because I recognize that this is the wave that follows you.

“We need to have these people involved or otherwise there’s no legacy.”

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