A Special Welcome

Monday, July 30, 2018

It has been 40 years since Randall Moorman, MD, had his best year as a doctor, during his intern year at Duke University Hospital. 

“While I have been lucky and stumbled upon success professionally in a number of ways, including being Chief Resident at Duke, I have said a jillion times that my intern year was my greatest professional effort, followed by my JAR year,” said Dr. Moorman, now a professor of medicine, physiology and biomedical engineering at the University of Virginia. “I doubt I am alone.” 

Earlier this year, Moorman reached out to his co-intern, Nancy Allen, MD, professor of medicine (Rheumatology and Immunology) at Duke, “to arrange a tour of the hospital and our old stomping grounds.” 

Moorman and Dr. Allen reunited at Duke in June along with Albert Mercer, MD, FACC, and Marshall Ruffin, MD. Together, they walked the halls of Duke Hospital where they had been interns. Aimee Zaas, MD, MHS, director of the Duke Internal Medicine Residency Program, snapped a picture of the four, holding a sign that reads, “Welcome New Interns!!!”  

What has changed since 1978?  

Things at Duke weren’t always as they are now, they said. For one, the facilities have changed: Duke North opened in May 1980, the medicine wards in Duke South are now used as outpatient clinics, and the Cancer Center, Duke Medicine Pavilion, and the Trent Semans Center for Health Education are all new.  

“Not only have the facilities changed, but the technology has improved,” said Allen. “The electronic medical records used now were written notes then, paper charts, and blue-belt dictation equipment.” 

Allen said patient care also was different, with separate wards for women and men (Osler and Long respectively), and Duke now has a larger emergency room and MICU. Allen recalls when they only had about five medicine beds in each, and she remembers doing more of the day-to-day work that is now done by others on the care team: blood draws, arterial sticks, looking at urine tests, carrying specimens to the lab, and putting in IVs and lines. “There weren’t any ultrasounds back then!” 

Ruffin currently lives in Vienna, Virginia, and works with a small company involved with predictive analytics in health care.
"One of the best periods of my life, for what I learned and the friends I made, were my three years at Duke. I met my wife, Paula, a nurse on the Cardiology Ward on Duke South, and close friends, Randall Moorman, Albert Mercer and Nancy Allen, during that same intense period of work and education.”  

Mercer currently lives in Lavonia, Georgia.

“I was a 24-year-old child when I came to Duke University Hospital. I learned discipline and hard work at Duke. I wasn’t a scientist; however, I found my gift: the ability to create for the patient, to secure a caring relationship and place where we would get them better and go forward together. I learned at Duke that I was strong, and I worked hard to provide service in all phases of care and repeated that simple plan 100,000 times over 40 years.” 

“It has been 40 years and training at Duke is still amazing,” Allen said.  

“Training at Duke prepared me to provide excellent care to patients in the inpatient and outpatient settings, to be a lifelong learner, to become a leader, to be part of a team and in some ways to develop my own style of teaching and mentoring,” Allen said.  

And what advice do these alumni have for today’s interns? 

From Allen to the new interns: Know that you deserve to be a Duke intern; please enjoy and learn each day; take care of yourself and your co-interns; get to know your patients and your faculty as persons with interesting stories. 

Mercer to the interns: At Duke try to find the best you. Don’t try to emulate another outstanding doctor/scientist. 

Moorman to the interns: It is important to think about anchor accomplishments, the things you have done that no one can take away from you. I think of my internal medicine training at Duke as a premier anchor accomplishment of mine. Give it everything you have, and take the chance. 

We encourage other trainees, interns, medicine professionals to reach out if you also have a story or two you’d like to share with #DukeFamily, at our website: Department of Medicine 

Written by NyAsia Harris, communications intern for the Department of Medicine.