Medical Spotlight: Daniel Alyeshmerni (M'09)

Cardiology Fellow, University of Michigan Health System

“Georgetown attracts a unique student body, and I made many lifelong friends in my medical school class. The clinical standard to which Georgetown Medical Students are held in my opinion is the highest in the nation. This standard and Georgetown’s culture of taking initiative are qualities I will carry with me throughout my career.”

IHI Open School Chapter Founder, Daniel Alyeshmerni, reflects on his time at Georgetown as a medical student and resident. Dr. Alyeshmerni also shares his interest in quality improvement and patient safety, and the lessons he learned working in a small clinic in Bolivia. Read the full interview below.

Please describe your current job and what led you to this position.

I am currently a cardiology fellow at the University of Michigan Health System, and my academic interests reside in improving the quality, safety, and value of cardiovascular care. In identifying a training program, I sought a place with top notch cardiovascular care and national leadership in the measurement, care coordination, and improvement of cardiovascular care. The University of Michigan has this unique environment and a culture of caring for the whole patient (similar to Cura Personalis), which is similar to what I grew up with at Georgetown, so it felt like a great fit.

What led to your interest in quality improvement and patient safety?

In my training in internal medicine at Georgetown, I gained a strong appreciation for the role systems of care have in shaping patient outcomes. Often times as trainees, we have the frontline view of care delivery and how systems enable us to care for patients efficiently and appropriately. The process of iteratively and systematically improving these systems to achieve better care and prevent harm became my interest in residency.

Why did you feel it was important to start the IHI Open School Chapter at Georgetown?

Talking to many people across schools at Georgetown (medical, nursing, and health systems administration) there was growing interest in creating a partnership to study and improve quality at Georgetown University Hospital. We sought to take an interprofessional approach to create a unique educational opportunity in quality improvement and the IHI Open School was the perfect catalyst.

Can you please share a little about your experience working in Bolivia? What motivated you to do this? What lessons did you learn/how has this impacted your career?

Global health has been a passion of mine since before I went to medical school. Learning about other health systems and the public health challenges faced by other populations around the globe is both fascinating and gratifying work. In Bolivia, I learned about a rural community by working in a small “one-stop shop” clinic-based practice environment. I treated many patients with Trypanosoma cruzi (also known as Chagas disease), and worked with clinic staff and community officials to understand the larger reasons why lowland Bolivia was afflicted by a 70% seropositivity for Chagas. My experience in Bolivia and in many other resource poor places has taught me that our reliance on ancillary tests in the United States sometimes prevents us from utilizing and expanding our clinical acumen. It has taught me to take a step back and ask myself “Do I really need this test?” before ordering anything.

Can you please share an experience, relationship, or organization at Georgetown that had a meaningful impact on your life and/or career?

Well, where do I even start when answering this question? I am incredibly grateful for my experience at Georgetown. With regards to relationships, there are too many to count. If I had to pick one organization, it would be the IHI Open School Chapter. It was amazing to be part of the synergy of this organization as we accomplished a great deal in a short time across disciplines and schools. Each discipline brought the other to its productive potential, and it was exciting and gratifying to bring the Amitai Etzioni Patient Safety Symposium to fruition with Drs. Donald Berwick and Carolyn Clancy as keynotes. I have never been around such motivated and passionate individuals.

Reflecting back on your time at Georgetown, what do you think is unique about the education and training you received?

Georgetown attracts a unique student body, and I made many lifelong friends in my medical school class. The clinical standard to which Georgetown Medical Students are held in my opinion is the highest in the nation. This standard and Georgetown’s culture of taking initiative are qualities I will carry with me throughout my career.

What advice would you give to a student interested in specializing in cardiology?

It’s a marathon, not a sprint but well worth it. Wherever you are make sure to seek out the right mentors who are people you aspire to become. Make sure you enjoy the clinical work; your career as a doctor begins and ends with the needs of patients.

Anything to else you would like to add?

HOYA SAXA!