Three new Clinical Scholars to begin as one completes College tenure

Three Clinical Scholars-in-Residence will begin two-year programs in July at the American College of Surgeons (ACS) headquarters in Chicago, IL, as the three-year tenure of Ryan P. Merkow, MD, MS, ended June 30.

The three incoming Clinical Scholars will focus on advancing ACS quality improvement programs and performing related outcomes research. In addition, the scholars will pursue a master’s degree in health services and outcomes research at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL.

Dr. Merkow’s accomplishments

As an ACS Clinical Scholar-in-Residence for the last three years, Dr. Merkow worked on a number of programmatic initiatives, including the College’s National Surgical Quality Improvement Program’s (ACS NSQIP®) Oncology section, the National Quality Forum (NQF)-endorsed colon surgery 30-day outcome measure, and the introduction of Procedure-Targeted ACS NSQIP. He has developed an expertise in risk-adjustment methodology and has helped to mentor the junior Clinical Scholars. He also worked to provide ACS NSQIP hospitals with comparative data for reoperation, length of stay, and readmission.

As a researcher, Dr. Merkow focused on surgical oncology and evaluated the effects of cancer accreditation on publicly reported quality measures. He also evaluated the appropriateness of surgical readmission as a quality measure. The Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) recognized Dr. Merkow’s research at its 2012 annual meeting, awarding him the Harvey Baker Traveling Fellow award in 2012; he was a finalist for the same award in 2013. In addition, his abstract titled Effect of Cancer-Specific Variables on Risk-Adjusted Hospital Comparisons for ACS NSQIP Short-Term Outcomes was recognized as the best abstract at the SSO meeting.

Dr. Merkow completed his medical education at the University of Colorado, Denver, where he also completed his first three years of general surgery residency. He will complete his final two years of general surgery training at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and then go on to a surgical oncology fellowship.

Incoming Clinical Scholars

Clinical Scholar Elliot Asare, MD, a graduate of Howard University College of Medicine, Washington, DC, and third-year general surgery resident at the Medical College of Wisconsin Affiliated Hospitals, Milwaukee, will focus his research on cancer staging in conjunction with the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC). The AJCC has started to assemble the eighth edition of the Cancer Staging Manual, which contains standards that help the cancer patient management team determine the correct stage for cancer patients and the most appropriate care plan.

In addition, as a Clinical Scholar, Dr. Asare will interact with College-based peers and mentors, and will conduct outcomes research with the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB). Dr. Asare is planning a career as an academic surgical oncologist and to return eventually to his native country of Ghana to establish a cancer center, including a cancer registry. Genentech, Inc., and the Medical College of Wisconsin are funding Dr. Asare’s Scholar-in-Residence award.

Clinical Scholar Ravi Rajaram, MD, is a third-year general surgery resident at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, focusing his research on outcomes and quality improvement around thoracic and foregut surgical oncology.  A graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN, Dr. Rajaram will work with College scholars and mentors on projects involving surgical quality.

Dr. Rajaram is working toward a career in academic thoracic surgical oncology.  Merck & Co. and the department of surgery and the Center for Healthcare Studies at Northwestern University are funding this program.

Sanjay Mohanty, MD, will join the ACS as the James C. Thompson/American Geriatrics Society Clinical Scholar. Dr. Mohanty earned his medical degree from the Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, and completed two years of general surgery residency at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, MI. During his fellowship, Dr. Mohanty will focus on developing guidelines for the care of geriatric surgical patients and geriatric-related health services and outcomes research. Dr. Mohanty is shaping his career around academic surgical oncology. The American Geriatrics Society is supporting Dr. Mohanty’s fellowship.

The ACS Clinical Scholars-in-Residence work to improve the ACS quality improvement programs and harness the ACS registry data to devise studies for enhancing the quality of patient care. The program prepares a surgical resident for a career in academic surgery through a practice research and health policy experience.

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