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Endowing Our Excellence

Edwin L. Overholt, MD Endowment Campaigns for Medical Education

United by a common vision and inspired by one of our greatest educators, Endowing Our Excellence is a $11 million cooperative campaign with four essential components. This unprecedented endowment initiative strives to permanently fund the Chair of the Department of Medical Education and three principal Directorships for the Transitional, Internal Medicine and General Surgery Residency programs.

Medical education and research are what distinguishes Gundersen Health System as an Academic Medical Center and not "just another community hospital." Endowing these programs will ensure that the training of young physicians at Gundersen will continue for generations to come.

The Edwin L. Overholt, MD, Chair of Medical Education

Goal: $3 million. Established in honor of Dr. Overholt's retirement in 1993, this fund will provide the ongoing resources necessary to retain the visionary leadership that our reputation for educational excellence was built upon.

A report from Dr. Greg Thompson, Chair of Medical Education

Dr. Greg Thompson

Dr. Greg Thompson, Chair of Medical Education 

Medical Education at Gundersen Medical Foundation continues to expand with the foundation of excellence established by Dr. Edwin L. Overholt. The culture of excellence was formally recognized with the 2016 Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) Baldwin Award for humanism in medical education. Gundersen was one of three recognized with the inaugural award from over 690 eligible healthcare organizations. In addition, continuing a tradition established by Dr. Overholt, our resident housing has expanded to support our enlarging and developing residency, fellowship, and student programs. Our residency and fellowship programs now include 79 residents/fellows in 11 programs. New programs include a Family Medicine Residency and Optometry Residency. Programs in development include residencies and fellowships in Behavioral Medicine. These programs represent our Graduate Medical Education office.

Medical Education at Gundersen also includes continuing medical education (CME) and undergraduate medical education (UME). In 2016, our CME office sponsored 11 seminars/symposiums that were attended by over 1,200 participants, while also contributing to Regularly Scheduled Sessions for which 1,034 hours of CME credited were granted. The UME office within medical education is a new endeavor which seeks to standardize and centralize the process for which undergraduate, and some graduate, students receive their training at Gundersen. In 2016, over 1,100 student rotations were completed by students from 32 different colleges and universities that were coordinated by the UME office. Reflective of our multidisciplinary approach to medical education, in 2016 we received our first federal grant to support multidisciplinary training of medical and pharmacy residents, as well as medical, physician assistant and pharmacy students.

Recently, the Medical Education Office at Gundersen Medical Foundation has also been intimately involved with the extensive remodeling of the Rasmus and Overholt auditoriums and the Ross conference room. The remodel will be of significant benefit to medical education and Gundersen, as these locations serve both educational and operational roles.

The work of the Medical Education Office would not be possible without the tremendous support and leadership of the Gundersen Medical Foundation and Gundersen Health System, and the philanthropic support of so many. Ultimately, our goal is to build and train the healthcare workforce required for our organization, communities and region while having impact locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

Dr. Jennifer Gipp

"Thank you for all you do to establish endowment funds to support residency programs. I've seen firsthand how these programs help to educate and build confidence in residents, who pass their education and knowledge on to their patients."

Jennifer E. Gipp, OD, FAAO, MBA
Clinical Optometrist, Residency and Externship Director
Gundersen Health System – Decorah Eye Clinic

Overholt graph

The James Webster, MD, & Lucian Griffith, MD, Director of Transitional Year Residency

Goal: $2 million. Major benefactors Dr. Stephen and Katie Webster established this endowed Directorship in 2005 to honor their fathers' dedication to teaching that has transcended generations…a dedication they also experience inside these walls every day.

A report from Director of the Transitional Medicine Residency Program, Dr. Lori Weber

Lori Weber

Dr. Lori Weber

The Gundersen Transitional Year Residency Program has had another wonderful year. All 12 of last academic year's residents successfully passed Step 3 of the Boards and graduated. During the interview season both last academic year and this academic year, I enlisted the help of a few of my residents in the interview process. Their feedback and insight was paramount in having another successful match for both 2016 and 2017. My current residents are wonderful. I truly feel their engagement and it makes me proud to say that I am their Program Director.

I have tasked this academic year's residents to do a community service project as a group. They chose to participate in the 22nd Annual Rotary Lights of La Crosse. Their involvement included assisting with set up by hanging the lights at the entrance as well as decorating a Christmas tree to be on display and finally participating in the clean-up process at the end of the holiday season. Their theme for decorating their Christmas tree was to highlight who they are. I created an ornament for each resident with their picture on it to highlight their theme. I hope you had a chance to see their tree this past Holiday Season.

Finally, I started a Mentor Program this academic year where I have paired each resident with one of our Gundersen staff that either is in their advanced residency specialty or has similar interests. Although it is in its infancy as a program, I feel that this has helped my residents become more connected to Gundersen Health System.

"A truly unique thing about training at Gundersen is the rich culture of service and professionalism within the hospital. The camaraderie and respect between the staff, trainees and students mold the learning environment in a way that brings out the best in everyone. The end result is unparalleled excellence in patient care that I will take with me as I begin my career as a physician scientist. There is electricity in the air the moment you step into the building."

Jason Chiang, MD, PhD
Transitional Resident

Transitional Year graph

The Edward Winga, MD, Director of Internal Medicine Residency

Goal: $2 million. Lead gifts made by Dr. Edward and Sharon Winga provided the necessary foundation for this endowment in 2006. This program was modeled after Dr. Overholt's widely acclaimed military Internal Medicine Residency Program.

A report from Director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program, Dr. Steven B. Pearson

Steven Pearson

Dr. Steven B. Pearson

The internal medicine residency has experienced another great year. We continue to have a full complement of 24 residents in the program and they are a great group, interested in learning and with wonderful interpersonal skills. We graduated eight competent internists in June of 2016. Of these eight, two entered fellowships including Cardiology and Heme/Onc. three are pursuing careers as hospitalists, one is working in primary care with an ambulatory practice, one is working in a traditional internal medicine practice doing clinic and hospital medicine and one is our current chief resident. All of these graduates went on to pass their Internal Medicine Board exams in August continuing our tradition of excellence in this area and giving us a 95% board pass rate for the past 10 years.

News items this past year include the receipt of a 1.4 million dollar Federal grant to develop an ultrasound curriculum for the residency. Use of bedside ultrasound is the current ‘hot topic' in medical education and we are very excited about the benefits it will bring in developing a high quality ultrasound learning experience. Each resident will receive their own ultrasound simulation probe so they can learn the basics of ultrasound imaging on their personal computers. We hope to be graduating residents in 2-3 years who are experts in the use of point of care bedside ultrasound. Another new development has been the development of a ‘Pre-Op Clinic' rotation for the residents. We have a state of the art clinic here at Gundersen staffed by internists, anesthetists and pharmacists who perform detailed multidisciplinary pre-operative evaluations of patients. This has become a valuable learning experience for the residents.

Finally we are very excited about the re-model project involving the Overholt, Rasmus and Ross conference rooms. We are looking forward to the opening of these new state of the art conference rooms in the spring of 2017. These rooms will give us a consistent venue to engage the residents in learning as we start each day and with state of the art audience participation electronics plus other AV specialty equipment it will enhance teaching/learning effectiveness.

We are in the middle of another recruiting season that looks to be setting us up for a very successful ‘Match' in March of 2017. We have excellent numbers of very high quality applicants again this year. In summary I say ‘life is good' in the Gundersen IM residency.

Winga graph

The William Kisken, MD, & Thomas Cogbill, MD, Director of General Surgery Residency

Goal: $2 million. Established in 2006 by multiple commitments by alumni and friends of the program, this endowment is named in honor of two very prominent and extraordinary directors: Dr. William Kisken and Dr. Thomas Cogbill.

A report from Director of the Surgery Residency Program, Dr. Ben Jarman

Bengamin Jarman

Dr. Ben Jarman

The general surgery residency remains in strong standing in 2017! We are growing accustomed to our expansion to 15 residents and have a new sense of stability in our rotation schedules. The Department of Surgery has transitioned with new hires/ retirements and a transition in department chair and I think we have adapted well.

Our 2016 graduates are doing outstanding things. Dr. Abraham Tsigonis is providing care for a native population of Alaska – serving a role not tackled by surgeons in the past and providing care that would otherwise require long travel times and periods away from home and work by a population who can least afford it. Dr. Angela Appel is working with a surgical group in Eau Claire, WI serving as a broad based general surgeon for a large population and filling needed gaps in technology and breast surgery for her patients. Dr. Jacob Schaeffer is establishing a general and vascular surgery practice in Watertown, South Dakota – adapting well in the early stages of his career. All passed their ABS qualifying and certifying exams on their first attempt this past fall and all reflect positively on their training.

We have maintained our reputation as an outstanding center to train general surgeons. This seems like a simple statement– but the complexities of training residents to become competent and confident stewards of broad spectrum general surgery are immense and we continue to accomplish this task with devoted teaching faculty members and unwavering Foundation and Health System support.
We established Associate Program Director and Surgery Residency Skills Lab Director roles in the spring of 2015. Dr. Christy Waller and Dr. Brandon Grover have fulfilled these positions respectively. Colette O'Heron continues in her role as Medical Education Specialist and has continued to excel in her dedication to the residents, has presented and published nationally, and has served as a tremendous partner to me over the past 6 years.

My focuses on maintaining excellence in the program, encouraging research productivity, supporting third world mission projects, maintaining our chief resident surgery service and mitigating administrative trials associated with the directorship are ongoing. I feel fortunate to be part of such a tremendous organization and hope I am continuing to positively impact the residency

"I have enjoyed surgery residency at Gundersen. I am well prepared to enter a broad based general surgery practice after completing my training next year. My family has grown and flourished during my time here and we will remember Gundersen fondly after we depart next year." 

Ryan S. Watson, MD
Gundersen Surgery Resident

Cogbill graph

The Family Medicine Residency Directorship Endowment

Goal: $2 million

The Family Medicine Residency was established in 2013, adding another residency program of significance to our region. This is the Foundation's newest endowment and is available for naming.

A report from Director of the Family Medicine Residency Program, Dr. Paul Klas

Paul Klas

Dr. Paul Klas

The Family Medicine Residency Program is about to begin its second year of training residents with an emphasis on rural family medicine. Our training program received the highest level of accreditation available from the ACGME for a new program, and is on track to become a premier Family Medicine Residency Program in the state of Wisconsin.

Our first year class brought us four residents all with strong ties to Wisconsin. Three graduated from the UW MSPH in Madison, and one from the MCOW in Milwaukee. Theyhave brought a great deal of expertise and excitement to our training program as they help build our Family Medicine Residency Program. Our program recently received the results of the resident match, and again we have four excellent residents, all with ties to Wisconsin. They will matriculate into our program in July of 2017.

Gundersen Health System continues to support and provide an excellent clinical training environment for our residents in family medicine.

The residents continue to participate in the rigorous clinical and academic environment provided by Gundersen. They are all working on quality improvement and research projects and are involved in community outreach projects.

Finally, our second year curriculum allows each of the residents to have a one month rural experience, when each of the residents will spend four weeks providing care in a rural setting in a Gundersen clinic associated with a critical access hospital. This will hopefully inspire some of them to provide rural primary care in Wisconsin or the Midwest region.

I feel fortunate and inspired to be part of such a tremendous forward thinking and high quality institution and hope to continue to positively impact the residency and the lives of our residents.

Wesley Fox

"As a member of the first class of Family Medicine residents, I get asked quite often how I feel the new program is going. Every time I quickly say 'It's going really well!' Everyone is working to make sure we are building the best Family Medicine residency possible. We have the most dedicated faculty, the greatest support staff and an irreplaceable program coordinator. We are welcomed alongside our fellow residents and our specialty attendings are eager to teach. Gundersen has been the perfect place to train: a community program with an academic feel, a large regional referral center with no shortage of pathology and plenty of local extra-curricular opportunities to complement intern life. If I had to do it all over again, I'd choose Gundersen next time too."

Wesley (Wes) Fox, MD
Family Medicine Resident

Gundersen Medical Foundation Board of Directors is committed to Medical Education. They unanimously resolved, on Dec. 9, 2006, to match up to $5 million in contributions.

The Board will allocate $1 million in unrestricted reserves to each of these five endowments.

Therefore, our collective campaign goal of $11 million will be achieved as follows:

  • $6 million in new contributions, including planned gifts and estate commitments
  • $5 million in matching funds from board-directed reserve assets

If you would like to learn more about making a commitment to Endowing our Excellence please contact:

Gundersen Medical Foundation
1836 South Ave., La Crosse, WI 54601
(800) 362-9567 or (608) 775-6000

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1900 South Ave.
La Crosse, WI 54601

(608) 782-7300

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