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Written by Ginnie Flynn   
Wednesday, October 07, 2020 04:13 PM

IAFP 2020 Academy Awards

Contact: Ginnie Flynn, Vice President of Communications
630-427-8004 office, 630-263-4613 cell, [email protected]

IAFP Honors Family Medicine Teachers of the Year and
Family Physician of the Year

(October 14, 2020) – The Illinois Academy of Family Physicians (IAFP) presented its highest honors at their annual meeting on October 14. All of the awards recipients accepted their award live via Zoom at the IAFP’s Virtual Annual meeting and Award’s ceremony, which was also livestreamed via Facebook for their families, friends and fans to enjoy.

Resident Teachers of the Year:

Joanna Curran, MD - West Suburban Family Medicine Residency Program (Oak Park)
“She practices, performs, and teaches at a level that is so far above her level of training,” says Scott Levin, MD, program director at West Suburban Family Medicine Residency. “She exceeds the high expectations that she already established during here rotation here as a fourth-year medical student.” Given West Suburban’s outstanding reputation and history, that is high praise indeed.

Dr. Curran describes her approach to teaching, “I try to create a supportive learning environment in which learners are comfortable admitting that they do not know an answer. This allows us to work together to not only find the answer to a specific question, but also to learn the process of how to find relevant information and how to apply that information to our patients, fully understanding that everyone functions differently to do this.”

Dr. Curran began her final year of residency training assuming the role of Chief Resident as of July. She graduated from Chicago Medical School, Rosalind Franklin University and includes Public health; Women’s health; Adolescent medicine; Addiction medicine; Bioethics among her professional interests.

Lauren Uichanco, MD – Cook County Family Medicine Residency Program (Chicago)
Cook County Family Medicine Program director Dr. Gail Floyd describes Dr. Uichanco’s impact by saying, “Her intellectual curiosity is contagious, she is a disciplined self-learner with a keen ability to teach and enlighten others.” Dr. Floyd herself received an IAFP President’s Award in 2019 and is a long-time leader in Chicago family medicine education.

“My teaching philosophy is inspired by teachers and mentors I have admired. To me, teaching signifies empowerment -- not only of the learner, but of the teacher herself. My hope is that learners are empowered to provide quality patient care through curiosity and resourcefulness,” says Dr. Uichanco.

Dr. Uichanco graduated from University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine (Tampa) and will complete residency training in June 2021. Her professional interests include Inpatient and outpatient medicine, women’s health, pediatrics and adolescent care, teaching, interacting with residents and medical students, working with underserved and diverse populations.

Teacher of the Year – Carl Earl Lambert, Jr., MD, FAAFP – Rush Medical College
Dr. Lambert was originally nominated by student member Jay Ogunkeye and was supported with letters and statements from over 40 Rush Medical College students.

Josh Doeppelt has been with Dr. Lambert all four years of Medical School and said, “Dr. Lambert is an incredible role model and support system, but especially for the historically underrepresented in medical school. I went to a TED talk he gave last year to a packed auditorium where he spoke to the barriers he faced as a black man in becoming a physician. An anecdote from that speech was that one of his first patients, an African American man, called him a “black unicorn.” His patient elaborated just how rare it was to see him, a black man, as his medical provider.”

Dr. Lambert graduated from Rush Medical College in 2011, completed his residency training at West Suburban Family Medicine in Oak Park. He then spent two years at Family Christian Health Center before returning to Rush full time in 2016 as an assistant professor of family medicine. In addition to educating medical students, he is medical director for Rush Family Physicians group since 2018.

His education roles include:

  • Director of Rush Medical College Family Medicine Leadership Program
  • Director of Rush Medical College Service Learning Program
  • M3 Primary Care Clerkship Site Director and Preceptor
  • M4 Urban Primary Care Elective Site Director and Preceptor
  • M1&M2 Pre-Clinical Clinician Educator
  • M1&M2 Curriculum Development Team Member
  • Member of Rush Medical College Committee on Curriculum Evaluation

Additional areas of professional interest are Health Equity and Anti-Racism Curriculum Development in Medical Education, serving as a mentor, increasing recruitment and retention of Black and Latinx students and supporting pipeline programs into medical school, residency, and academic medicine.

He recently received the National Medical Association (NMA) 2020 "Top Healthcare Professional Under 40" Award and the Leonidas H. Berry, MD, Diversity Leadership Faculty Award from Rush University Office of Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs.

Medical Student Timothy Huang helped present the award with his own video congratulations to his mentor. “When I think of Dr. Lambert, I think he is an excellent role model for me to follow. He's been so outstanding for so long both as an educator, a physician, and a mentor. As a medical student in the Rush Medical College Family Medicine Leadership Program, I have the privilege of seeing Dr. Lambert work with patients up close in his clinic. I believe his relationship with his patients should serve as role models for family physicians everywhere. Since the first day I started coming into his clinic, I saw how much his patients appreciate him being their doctor, how they respect his opinion, and ultimately I have seen patients change their behaviors/lifestyle because of Dr. Lambert. With each patient that he sees, I can tell that they fully trust him to take care of them.”

Dr. Lambert and his wife Adrienne live in Matteson.  
Link to feature story by Rush on their website

Family Physician of the Year – Alyssa Jeanne Vest Hart, DO, FAAFP – Hinsdale Family Medicine 
Dr. Alyssa Jeanne Vest-Hart exemplifies what it means to be a family physician. As a faculty member at Hinsdale Family Medicine she regularly educates her patients, students, residents and colleagues with the greatest care. And she provides compassionate care to generations of families, including those who followed her from PCC to Hinsdale. She was nominated by a former resident, Dr. Nicholas Katcher, who said, “Although she may not realize it, she sets a wonderful example at all times. She doesn't break character, because she doesn't have to. She is genuine in all matters. She is beloved by her patients, residents and faculty for her caring and loving nature.”

Dr. Vest Hart is medical director at Adventist Hinsdale Family Medicine Center, a Level 3 Patient Centered Medical Home. In 2019 she created the Team Based Care program for Hinsdale Family Medicine Center. She is currently Chair of Family Medicine at both AMITA Hinsdale and La Grange Hospitals.

Prior to joining Hinsdale, she spent her first four years at PCC Austin Community Health Center, providing full spectrum Family Medicine and Obstetrics in at a federally qualified health center. Many of her PCC patients followed her to Hinsdale and remain with her today and some of them sent IAFP letters about their beloved family physician:

“I (told her), wherever you go, I’m going with you. I can remember a time when me and my grandchildren were hungry and didn’t have any food. Dr. Vest went out of her way to get food from the food truck or the pantry and brought the food to my house. She has done appointments for me in my house, when I couldn’t leave the house because of my medical conditions.” -Nichelle

"Dr. Vest Hart cared for me when I lost my first born in 2014 due to gun violence and the next year when I lost my mother. She provided me with the proper grief counseling and made sure I came in for checkups. She shows how much you mean to her and builds a bond and connection with her patients. She is the most determined and motivated person I’ve ever come across.”

“From the hugs that she gives me and my family when we come in the office, whether it’s a checkup, follow up visits or emergency visits, to the stern words I get when I’m being hard-headed. She has been there, always ending the conversation with ‘We’ve got to keep you healthy and around for those (twin) boys!’ I feel like Dr. Vest Hart is part of our family and that’s how we are treated.”

As a family medicine educator Dr. Vest Hart has served as Adventist Hinsdale Hospital Family Medicine Core Faculty for the past six years, providing and teaching full spectrum family medicine and obstetric care. She is also faculty at Midwestern University Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine since 2015, teaching first year medical students weekly Osteopathic Manipulation via lecture and lab, as well as leading small groups to better understand osteopathic principles and practices.

Dr. Katcher and longtime patients from the Grubbs family all delivered congratulations messages during the awards presentation where Dr. Vest Hart accepted the award virtually from IAFP President Dr. Michael A. Hanak.

Dr. Vest Hart graduated from Midwestern University Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed her family medicine residency training at West Suburban Family Medicine Residency and maternal child health fellowship at PCC Wellness Center. She lives in Oak Park with wife Betsy Hart and their children Oliva, Madison and William.

The Illinois Academy of Family Physicians (IAFP) represents over 4,800 family physicians, family medicine residents and medical students dedicated to promoting the value of the specialty of Family Medicine and improving health for all through advocacy, education and action. Learn more at www.iafp.com.