Three Honored with President’s Excellence Awards

Congratulations to the recipients of this year’s President’s Excellence Awards:

  • Samantha A. Bliss, recipient of the President’s Staff Excellence in Continuous Improvement Award, is manager of strategic initiatives.
  • Amy F. Lee, M.D., M.P.H., recipient of the Presidential Excellence in Teaching Award – Rootstown-based faculty, is professor of Family and Community Medicine and program director, Consortium of Eastern Ohio Master of Public Health.
  • Alex Heintzelman, M.D., recipient of the Presidential Excellence in Teaching Award – Clinical Faculty, is clinical assistant professor of Family and Community Medicine, and director of the Rural Medical Education Pathway.

Ms. Bliss and Dr. Lee were honored during the June 9 meeting of the Board of Trustees. Due to a conflict, Dr. Heintzelman was unable to attend the meeting; he will be recognized in the very near future.

Samantha A. Bliss

A woman holding a glass award, standing with the university president.Bliss’ nominators — Michelle Mulhern, chief of staff and secretary to the Board of Trustees, and Lacey Madison, chief strategy officer — credited Bliss’ project management skills and her Lean Six Sigma training for her work to set up the software that tracks campus-wide progress toward the goals set forth in the strategic plan.

“Ms. Bliss has parlayed her best practices and shared them with the NEOMED community as she serves as the subject-matter expert for the divisions as they begin to enter their strategic plans into the platform,” the nominators wrote.

“Ms. Bliss is viewed by her peers and colleagues throughout NEOMED as a true leader and champion for the University, its strategic plan and process improvement,” they added. “She gives 100% to whatever project or task she is working on, is dedicated and a hard worker, and she epitomizes the values associated with the President’s Staff Excellence in Continuous Improvement Award.”

Amy F. Lee, M.D., M.P.H.

A woman holding a glass award, standing with the university president.Six students and three faculty nominated Dr. Lee.

Akanksha Dadlani, M.D. (’22), M.P.H., cited Dr. Lee’s commitment to lifelong learning and community engagement in her nomination letter, saying that Dr. Lee goes above and beyond the call of duty for every endeavor she takes on.

“I have worked with many teachers and research mentors, but few with her dedication, passion and ability to multitask,” Dr. Dadlani wrote. “She is among the top 1% of teachers and research mentors I have ever worked with and is an asset to any team she works on.”

Rising M2 Aditi Deshmukh said she values Dr. Lee’s teaching style. “Both in the M.P.H. program and in medical school, Dr. Lee heavily emphasizes the application of concepts. During Population Health, I was able to develop my learning style for medical school as many of her instructional questions really challenged us as students to develop a higher understanding of the content, rather than regurgitate facts.”

M.P.H. candidate Gwendolyn J. Richner expressed gratitude for Dr. Lee’s dedication to students. “Even when Dr. Lee isn't our primary course instructor, she shows her enthusiasm by frequent communication with the students, weekly ‘Wednesday Tips’ and innovative ideas for program enhancement,” Richner wrote.

Colleague Kristin Baughman, Ph.D., associate professor of Family and Community Medicine, wrote, “I have taught with Dr. Lee for the past 17 years and have always been impressed with the quality of her teaching and her commitment to mentoring students.”

Dr. Baughman said Dr. Lee has been a great mentor to her, noting, “Dr. Lee takes an active hands-on approach to both designing and teaching courses. She designed a tracking system to make sure that M.P.H. students were competent in meeting each program objective and mapped the objectives to each course within the M.P.H. program. We presented this form at the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research annual meeting in 2020 and received many positive comments from the audience.”

Alex Heintzelman, M.D. (’11)

In his nomination letter, John Boltri, M.D., FAAFP, professor and chair of Family and Community Medicine, described Dr. Heintzelman as an exceptional teacher and outstanding faculty member, citing his passionate, professionalism and thorough pedagogical methods and skills.

After starting a rural practice, Dr. Heintzelman began his service at NEOMED on a part-time basis in 2016, Dr. Boltri noted in his letter. Dr. Heintzelman’s passion for academic medicine was quickly evident and his role rapidly expanded to course director for an entirely new online Social Determinants of Health course, the first fully online course in College of Medicine history. Also, as the Rural Medical Education Pathway (RMED) began to grow at the same time, he began supporting the expansion of that program into its clinical years in a co-director role.

“As RMED director, Dr. Heintzelman has increased and enhanced the rural training of RMED students with a focus on preclinical seminar teaching and the integration of rural placements in the clerkship year,” Dr. Boltri wrote. “Early successes in these efforts have resulted in high ratings among RMED students. For example, 100% of the RMED class of 2021 rated their total experience in the pathway and support from pathway faculty and staff as very satisfied. Additionally, 100% strongly agreed it ‘Improved my overall student experience in medical school.’”

Dr. Boltri concluded, “Dr. Heintzelman is an excellent physician, excellent educator and excellent role model for our students. His work as a teacher and practicing physician is testament to his dedication to excellent teaching and student success in rural medicine.”

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