This year’s Robert C. Cefalo House Officer Awards were given to UNC Medical Center residents: Michael Hart, MD, obstetric anesthesiology; Diya Jost, MD, medicine, pediatrics; Meredith Kugar, MD, plastic and reconstructive surgery; Daniel Markwalter, MD, emergency medicine; and Andriana Tompary, MD, physical medicine & rehabilitation.
The Robert C. Cefalo, MD, House Officer Award recognizes members of the Hospitals’ House staff for exemplary service to patients and families, professional performance and compassionate patient care. This award is intended to honor Robert C. Cefalo, MD, PhD, professor emeritus of obstetrics and gynecology and assistant dean, head of the Office of Graduate Medical Education, Emeritus, UNC School of Medicine. Dr. Robert C. Cefalo served with distinction for 25 years as director of the residency and fellowship programs at UNC Hospitals. Dr. Cefalo passed away in 2008 after a battle with cancer, and this award was renamed the Robert C. Cefalo House Officer Award in 2008 as a permanent memorial to the legacy he left behind. A selection committee of physicians, nurses, and other clinical and administrative staff selected this year’s five honorees, who will each receive a monetary award of $1,000 to cover expenses associated with professional development.
Read more about each of this year’s honorees:
Michael Hart, MD, Obstetric Anesthesiology
Hart has been recognized for his unequivocal communication skills, advocacy for patients, and consummate professionalism. In being an exceptional obstetric anesthesiologist, many patients have benefitted from Dr. Hart’s skilled and empathetic care.
One story from his nomination: “Dr. Hart is well respected and liked by all of his anesthesiology peers and faculty. I can think of many occasions where Dr. Hart has appeared to offer assistance during emergencies in labor and delivery, even at times when he had been relieved of his responsibilities on another service altogether. I also immediately recall caring for a patient during an emergency where we encountered a difficult airway in the operating room, and Dr. Hart’s calm demeanor and skillset heavily contributed to a good outcome for a young mother.”
“With his prior experience, he brings a skillset and perspective that few other residents have. He has exceptional communication skills with his patients and colleagues. He is the ultimate team player and is grateful for all learning opportunities that are presented to him. He has a persistent positive attitude and always maintains a welcome smile on his face.”
Diya Jost, MD, Medicine-Pediatrics
Dr. Jost was praised for her commitment to her work, compassion for her colleagues and patients, and her advocacy for the highest standards of clinical care and professional practice.
Here’s what her nominators had to say: “Dr. Jost is the only resident who serves as a lead consultant on the Clinical Ethics Service (CES) for UNC Hospitals. Dr. Jost displays both her humility and excellent communication skills in her work as a consultant; she is adept at discussing difficult topics in a constructive manner. She also highlights the voices of patients who are particularly vulnerable or marginalized, perhaps by disability, poverty, literacy, minority status, or other concerns.”
“There is no doubt, Dr. Jost is seen as a leader at UNC. We all want her to be a part of our team. Her natural empathy compared with her ability to just listen to our patients provided a level of trust and confidence in the patient-physician relationship that many physicians take years to build, let alone sustain, and she accomplished this as a medical student. She was able to provide compassionate and evidence-based care to the most vulnerable patients in our hospital and did so with grace and humility.”
Meredith Kugar, MD, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Dr. Kugar was recognized for her compassionate and highly competent care, positive and fruitful collegiality, as well as her confidence and humility. Nominators describe Dr. Kugar as a true patient advocate; she takes the extra time to make sure her patients understand their treatment plans and then works diligently to ensure that they receive the best of care and leave with the best outcome possible.
Here’s what one of her nominators had to say: “We continually receive positive feedback from off-service rotations, attesting to Dr. Kugar’s skills and work ethic. Dr. Kugar is a true team player in every way. She is in tune to what her colleagues are doing and she knows how to be helpful without having to ask. She is very personable and has an innate likeability, which is refreshing. Dr. Kugar’s sincerity, conscientiousness and genuine sense of compassion is contagious and she serves as a role model to junior residents.”
Daniel Markwalter, MD, Emergency Medicine
Dr. Markwalter has been praised as an outstanding and thoughtful resident physician respected by his colleagues in emergency medicine and throughout the institution. He is constantly seeking for ways to improve care for ED patients with a particular passion for palliative and end–of–life care.
Here’s what his nominators had to say: “Dr. Markwalter is supremely intelligent but also very relatable, and he has a knack for communicating effectively with a wide breadth of audiences including patients, families, residents, and faculty.”
“Additionally, he is the lead investigator on a very important project titled, ‘Advance Care Planning and Palliative Care in the ED during COVID-19.’ With this initiative, he has educated his peers and EM faculty on surrogate decision making in the ED and palliative care interventions in COVID. In the ED, Daniel is well-respected and trusted by consultants and staff. He excels at working as a team with ED staff, including nurses, technicians, and clerks. He makes every team member feel valued and respected.”
Andriana Tompary, MD, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Dr. Tompary has been recognized as an outstanding resident physician who excels at creating strong patient and family relationships. Tompary is regarded as a leader in the PM&R department. She actively participates on multiple committees for departmental initiatives, and is by far the most engaged resident physician with the leadership team.
From her nominations: “Dr. Tompary always makes it a point to re-round on her patients (sometimes multiple times per day) particularly when family would be present to ensure optimal understanding of the current care plan or to review questions and concerns. She would often visit patients just to give them words of encouragement or support.”
“Everything Dr. Tompary does is not only considered above and beyond the usual and customary demands of being a busy resident physician, but she makes a point to bring her talents in communication to understand, and to provide a voice for the patient (and her team) during process improvement discussions. We all appreciate her unwavering passion and her drive to ensuring that no matter what process change goes into effect, that we are held to the highest standards of patient care. She is extremely responsive, compassionate, an active listener, and a strong advocate for her patients.”