School of Medicine Faculty Lauded for Excellence in Teaching

people pose for a photo
By the Office of Academic and Faculty Affairs, F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine

Four members of the F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine faculty at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) have been recognized for excellence in teaching by Dean (Dr.) Arthur Kellermann.

David F. Cruess, Ph.D., Department of Preventive Medicine and Biostatistics, Navy Capt. (select) (Dr.) Jill Emerick, Department of Pediatrics, Navy Capt. (Dr.) Christopher Kuzniewski, Department of Radiology, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Va., and Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Shane Summers, Department of Emergency Medicine, San Antonio Military Medical Center, Texas, were the 2017-2018 School of Medicine Faculty Teaching Award recipients.

Each year the Dean’s Advisory Committee selects faculty members for the awards based on their outstanding performance as educators during the preceding academic year. The award was established in 2010 and is presented to clinical and basic science faculty members from within the National Capital Region, along with a junior (instructor or assistant professor) and senior (associate professor or professor) member from the school’s cadre of national faculty. Each of the recipients will have his/her name inscribed on a tribute brick to be placed in a special section in the USU courtyard, and their photo will be added to the wall of award winners outside of the School of Medicine faculty affairs offices in room D3013 on the USU campus.

The dean’s advisory committee received a multitude of outstanding nominations, which senior associate dean Dr. Brian Reamy said “speaks volumes” about the caliber of the School of Medicine faculty, and which made narrowing down the final selection a difficult task.

Dr. David Cruess joined the USU faculty in August, 1978, as an assistant professor, and rose through the ranks to professor. Students describe his statistics course as “the best I have ever taken,” and that Cruess “makes learning a difficult subject easier.” In his 40 years at USU, he has held numerous department, School of Medicine, Graduate School of Nursing, and University-wide leadership positions. He has numerous scholarly publications in refereed journals, national and international collaborations across disciplinary boundaries, external awards, and numerous Department and School of Medicine teaching awards. Cruess embodies the standards expected as a winner of the Dean’s award; vast and high value contributions in teaching/educational activities, curriculum development, assessment, educational administration/leadership, and mentoring and advising.

Dr. Jill Emerick has been an outstanding contributor in her role as a lecturer and also as a small group facilitator to the reproduction and endocrinology pre-clerkship module since its inception in 2012. Student feedback continually recognizes Emerick for doing a great job communicating the subject matter, for possessing great leadership skills, being approachable, and really caring about the students. Emerick was instrumental in creating a three-hour block of curriculum for the nurse practitioner students focusing on the care of patients with Type 1 diabetes, and she helped to create the inaugural culinary lab experience offered to the medical students. She is dedicated to medical education at multiple levels, and is an excellent role model for the students.

Dr. Christopher Kuzniewski has served as Radiology program director at Portsmouth since 2012. Since that time, he has focused on the residents’ role as learners and made it his personal mission to ensure each graduating resident is unquestionably prepared and certified to practice independently, without supervision, anywhere in the world. He is committed to self-improvement activities to ensure he is the best teacher that he can be. He has earned USU Faculty Development certificates in both teaching and academic leadership, and was named Associate Master Clinician by the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth. Kuzniewski’s excellence in teaching and education resulted in all three of the resident classes for the 2017-2018 academic year, who took the American College of Radiology In-training exam scoring in the 100th percentile nationally. He works tirelessly as faculty, and truly cares about the education of everyone in his department.

Dr. Shane Summers has served as director of the largest emergency medicine residency in the DoD for the past three years. He has worked relentlessly to ensure that every one of his residents receives world class emergency medicine training with a particular focus on military unique curriculum. Narrative feedback on his teaching and residency leadership speak to the immeasurable contributions to military graduate medical education (GME) and the indelible impact that he has made upon his residents. One resident said, “Over the past year here I have seen his love of teaching residents first hand. He is encouraging and pushes us to be the best EM physician we can be. He doesn’t just know us as his residents, he knows our families and what is going on in our lives … He would walk through fire for his residents; this I know from personal experience.” Summers has exhibited selfless service and tireless dedication to military GME.

"Every day, our highly dedicated medical students walk into their classrooms, labs, small groups and clinical facilities ready to learn. There, they are met by a world-class group of faculty members who are equally ready to teach,” said Kellermann. “Our four honorees are the best of the best."