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Published January 28, 2021
Two University of Wyoming WWAMI Medical Education Program faculty members recently received the Independent Investigative Inquiry (Triple I) Outstanding Mentor Award.
Assistant Professor Danielle Bruns and Dr. Joseph McGinley, a radiologist specializing in musculoskeletal intervention and sports medicine from Casper, are the first University of Wyoming WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho) instructors to receive the award.
The Triple I scholarship requirement engages first-year University of Washington medical students across the WWAMI region in activities that foster the skills of lifelong learning that are essential for practicing physicians.
At the completion of their Triple I projects, medical students nominate mentors to receive the Outstanding Mentor Award. A committee selects 10-12 mentors from around the five-state WWAMI region each year to receive the award.
Bruns’ research focuses on exploring the molecular mechanisms underlying heart disease and heart failure, and the development of new therapies for the treatment of cardiac disease. She holds a joint position in the University of Wyoming Division of Kinesiology and Health, and the WWAMI Medical Education Program.
“Mentoring students in research is one of the best parts of my job as a scientist and educator,” Bruns says. “WWAMI student participation in research not only fosters lifelong learning and an understanding of the scientific process, but also serves as a great reminder that the work that we do at the bench ultimately should advance translational efforts to improve therapy for patients with heart disease.”
Jacob Zumo, a third-year WWAMI student from Cheyenne mentored by Bruns, says working with Bruns was one of the best lab experiences he has had.
“The students working in her lab are some of the best people that I have met, and I think it speaks volumes to the kind of learning environment that Dr. Bruns is fostering within her growing lab,” Zumo says. “Not only does she provide exceptional instruction on research skills, poster preparation and scientific writing, but she is easily able to connect with her students on a level that transcends traditional mentorship. She makes everyone feel like a valued and integral part of her time.”
McGinley owns his own medical practice, The McGinley Clinic, in Casper, with outreach clinics in Gillette and Douglas. He says he was fortunate to have accomplished mentors while in training who helped inspire him to take on challenges in medicine and research.
“I hope my involvement with the WWAMI program can encourage students to see medicine as an ever-evolving field. There are always new innovations and approaches to improve patient care -- what we teach currently should only be the baseline of knowledge,” he says. “I focus my mentorships on a patient-centered, problem-solving approach, integrating research and clinical practice. Working with these talented students is encouraging; the future of medicine is bright.”
Trey Thompson, a third-year WWAMI student from Cheyenne, says he enjoyed working with McGinley.
“Dr. McGinley was excellent. He was very approachable to ask questions, very patient, extremely helpful and quick to reply to my questions,” Thompson says.
Tim Robinson, director of the Wyoming WWAMI program, praises UW’s two award winners.
“Their research is clinically relevant and is on the cutting edge of medical science,” he says. “Just a few years ago, our program was fortunate to have one or two Wyoming researchers offer research opportunities to our WWAMI students. This year, we had nine research proposals submitted from UW faculty.”
The University of Washington School of Medicine (UWSOM) is consistently ranked in the top 10 of all U.S. allopathic medical schools, Robinson adds.
“To have two of our faculty win the Triple I Outstanding Mentor Award from the UWSOM speaks to the strength of our program and the talent that we have in our great state,” he says.
Nearly 100 faculty members from across the region volunteer their time to mentor medical students every summer, engaging them in scholarly activities, introducing them to patient care and helping them to develop both personally and professionally.
The UWSOM values excellent mentorship, which is central to the success of medical students. Mentors develop a supportive environment for scholarship; are readily available to guide students through their projects; provide instruction on research skills; support their personal and professional development; value scholarship and demonstrate professionalism.