Director Profile - Dr. Bruce Peyser

Thursday, January 4, 2018

I have been involved with the PCLT program ever since Dr. Sheline invited me to join the start up team about 7 years ago when the program was created. Having worked with Dr. Sheline previously, I knew under her leadership that there was a good chance that we would successfully launch the PCLT program after only four months of intense planning sessions and work, but I wanted to see if this could truly happen.  This was a huge accomplishment as curriculum innovation and change oftentimes take months to years to come to fruition.


My role within PCLT is multifold, and I wear many hats, as do the other members of the leadership team. In addition to helping to oversee and direct the program, I also assist with the oversight of the outpatient clinical experience for the second year students while they are completing their longitudinal internal medicine rotations.  I have had great fun working with the other internists at Duke who help mentor and teach our students during these rotations.


Additionally I co-lead the Primary Care Seminar which is a weekly small group seminar designed for the second year PCLT students in order to support their educational experience during their 8 month’s of longitudinal learning in the latter 2/3 of the second year.  During this time, I get to work with a fabulous clinician educator, Dr. Liza Genoa, who is a geriatrician who also works at Duke. Also, for PCS, we usually we are fortunate to have one of our third year students help us to teach and bring some “street cred” to our seminar.  This year we are so excited that  Aarti Thakkar is helping us to strengthen the experience especially as we transition to using Google Classroom to support our work.


Within PCLT, there seem to be three other areas that occupy the majority of my time. The first of these involves the interviewing of applicants to our program. My baby boomer priorities lead me to still want to interview applicants in person, and I spend a number of my Monday afternoons in the fall scooting over to the med school after my clinic is done so that I can complete these face-to-face interviews.


My second area of recent focus within PCLT has come from my desire to fund raise for our program.  With help from our Development Office at Duke, I have made a number of presentations to interested groups and we have so far received four separate donations to support our program over the past 18 months.


Finally my other PCLT related administrative passion relates to ongoing collaboration with colleagues from outside institutions that also have longitudinal programs for their medical students. This has involved working on some research projects together, as well as collaborating to help create a website that can be used by other longitudinal teaching programs.  Additionally, I enjoy traveling and have attended a number of national and international conferences in order to teach and help lead workshops covering topics related to our work and experience.  This collaboration culminated in the joint coordination and hosting of an international conference in 2015 when I worked with colleagues from the medical school at UNC Asheville.  We had a successful conference that drew 240 participants who traveled from all over the world in order to attend the conference, which started here in Durham, North Carolina.


In addition to helping to lead PCLT, I have some other duties at Duke that keep me occupied. I am still a practicing general internist and take care of 1500 patients at my clinic site, which is 15 min away from the main Duke campus. I still very much enjoy teaching in my clinic while seeing patients, and I almost always have either a PCLT student, or a nurse practitioner student, or a third year Duke medical students who work with me on a weekly basis. In order to prevent my blood pressure from dropping too low, I also serve as the medical director for this group overseeing our tremendous team of nine providers and 25 support staff.


Several afternoons each week, I also spend a portion of my time teaching other medical students from our med school. I currently lead a small group of first year students in the clinical skills foundation course, and on Wednesdays, I have the honor of teaching second year students in the clinical skills course. These varied experiences keep me on my toes, and I often find that there are similar themes, and challenges, that cross over between these different teaching activities.


When I get home at 6 pm most days, I change roles again and take on my important duties as husband, father, and animal guardian. My wife is a vascular surgeon at Duke and is the Chief of Staff for the Department of Surgery, so some of my time is spent supporting her and keeping our family happy and well fed. We have three millennial aged children and additionally, I help attend to our black lab, our boxer mix rescue dog, and two cats who all serve as surrogate children as most of ours have fled the coup.


My one passion outside of work and family remains sports and athletics. Having played soccer much of my life, I found I needed a different focus once I started working as a clinician in upstate New York, and this led to my training and competition in Sprint and Olympic length triathlons. After completing in 17 of these events, I decided to cut back on my running, avoid knee surgery, and I now mainly enjoy riding my Cervelo bike around Jordon Lake on weekends with friends. During the week, I exercise everyday at my local gym either before I start work or at the end of the day. And if it’s been a good week, I like to purchase and share some of the amazing Babka cinnamon loaves baked at our gym on Thursday’s and Friday, just to be sure that our weight levels don’t drop down too very low.


My work with the PCLT team and program represents my main focus each week.  I am especially passionate about this program, which has progressed so far in such a short amount of time.  We serve as role models for other schools, and programs, and that privilege and honor is something that is so important to all of us at our PCLT program.


The last thing that I would like to emphasize about PCLT, is that it is truly the students who make up our program, that inspire myself and our team to keep working to perfect and improve, and hopefully expand our program someday.  This is fun for us (usually), but it is also challenging and time consuming.  And it is so very important as we continue to train and support our change agents for the next generation in medicine.