Faculty Spotlight: Rowena Dolor

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Dolor CroppedFor this week’s faculty spotlight, we talk to Rowena Dolor, MD, about her three decades at Duke, practice-based research networks, and Duke’s first national basketball championship.
How long have you been at Duke? How long have you been at the Division?
I arrived at Duke in 1983 to attend college and received my undergraduate degree in 1987 and my medical degree in 1991. I started my time with the Division with my residency in 1994, followed by a Ambulatory Care/HSR fellowship at the Durham VA. I joined the faculty at the end of my fellowship, so I've been at Duke for a total of 31 years.

You’ve been at Duke and the Division a long time. How has the Division changed since you joined it?
The Division has grown and diversified over the years. More community-based internists from Duke Primary Care have joined the Division. A hospitalist group emerged from the change in having clinicians devoted to inpatient care and teaching to complement the clinicians who focus on outpatient care and teaching. I've witnessed the expansion of our health services and outcomes research projects from the Durham VA to the Duke University Health System.

What has not changed in the Division over the years is our excellence and commitment to teaching the internal medicine residents in the outpatient and inpatient settings, and the high-quality instruction in the Clinical Research Training Program (CRTP) for fellows and faculty who are interested in a Masters in Clinical Research. We also have one of the leading Centers for Health Services Research in Primary Care at the Durham VA, where many of the Division research faculty have trained before launching successful careers at Duke and elsewhere.

What does a typical day for you at the Division look like?
Before moving to Nashville two years ago, a typical day for me would consist of working on clinical research projects and Duke Evidence-Based Practice comparative effectiveness reports, and checking the Durham VA medical record for patient messages and reviewing/signing PRIME resident clinic notes at the start, middle, and end of the day to ensure that patient care issues were addressed before heading home. Now, I work in a home office and work by e-mail, teleconference, and web conference with project teams at Duke and other PBRN researchers nationally. I see many of my Duke co-workers and colleagues when I travel to project meetings, conferences, and when I come back to Durham to meet with the community practices.

You co-chaired and attended the North American Primary Care Research Group (NAPCRG) practice-based research network (PBRN). What was that experience like? What do you have planned for the 2015 and 2016 meetings? I started co-chairing the annual NAPCRG PBRN meetings in 2013. It has been a great opportunity to meet PBRN researchers, coordinators, and clinicians from all the primary care disciplines from the U.S., Canada, and other countries. We have a diverse planning committee, who help me and Dr. Lyle J. Fagnan to determine the conference theme, plenary speakers, agenda, and review workshop and abstract submissions. The conference theme of "Big Data in PBRN Research" was popular this year with the highest attendance and number of submissions. We are still planning for the 2015 and 2016 conferences, but some of the potential themes will include community clinician and patient engagement for patient-centered outcomes research, and the "network of networks" concept where PBRN networks can collaborate with specialty networks in other disciplines.

You’re the director of the Primary Care Research Consortium, network of local primary care practices that has put out some very influential research. What’s the most exciting research project the PCRC working on at the moment? We have a lot of great projects being conducted in the local primary care practices, so this is a tough one to answer. The most exciting projects would have to be the two new ones looking at shared decision making (SDM) between patients and providers. One project is focused on asthma and involves a collaboration between Duke, UNC, ECU and Carolinas Health System. The other project is a hybrid of a CME provider intervention and SDM patient intervention to improve the care of postmenopausal symptoms. We are using practice facilitation to help the community providers learn and implement SDM in their practices. I like these projects because they are patient-centered and focus on patient-provider communication.

What’s one passion or hobby do you have outside of the Division?
Outside of the Division, I focus on family time with my husband (and former Duke cardiologist) Michael Cuffe and our three children (ages 9, 16, and 19). We attend a lot of sporting events, not only the kid’s activities, but also college and professional sports. We get tickets to the Tennessee Titans football games, Nashville Predators hockey games, and Vanderbilt college sports whenever we have a free moment. We miss attending the Duke football, basketball, and lacrosse games, plus the Carolina Hurricanes hockey games. Mike and I were at the Final Four in Indianapolis in 1991 with our medical school friends when Duke basketball won their first national championship — a moment that we'll always remember.