Testimonials and Successes
Graduates of the Palatucci Forum are successfully creating positive and lasting changes for their patients and their profession across the globe.
Hear from some of our graduates.
- A practicing neurologist
"I applied to the Forum unsure of what kind of training and experience to expect. I received a tremendously rewarding and valuable experience."
"I had the opportunity to meet with a talented and motivated group of neurologists. Many have had experience in leadership positions at various levels. What we haven't had is training in communication and advocacy."
"Palatucci is not just for residents and fellows—it is for any neurologist who would like a set of tools to improve your ability to reach a broader audience and improve neurologic patient care."
"These tools can be used at local, state, and national levels.
"Through the Forum, I have already had the opportunity to meet and communicate personally with seven U.S. Senators. I look forward to the next opportunity!"
- James N. Goldenberg, MD, Florida
- A child neurologist
"I recently had meetings with a major philanthropist to the Child Neurology Foundation and another with the former speaker of the house of the Pennsylvania legislature to discuss working together on advocacy for developmental disabilities."
"It really helped to remember the key messages and how to keep bringing the discussion back to my goals for the meeting. Thanks again."
—Lawrence W. Brown, MD, Pennsylvania
- An Academy Fellow
"Participating in the Palatucci Advocacy Leadership Forum was one of the most challenging, 'out of my comfort zone' experiences I have had in my professional career."
"The field of Neurology is in crisis, and the Forum provided me extremely useful tools to help in the fight to protect our patients and our specialty."
"I had never felt comfortable being an advocate in the world of legislators and media, but now know how to deliver a sound bite and organize my message in a powerful and succinct manner."
"We can no longer sit back and hope that our leaders will make the right decisions. All of us must engage in the process of change and help educate our communities about the issues relevant to patients with neurologic disorders."
"PALF equips neurologists to do this. Be prepared to stretch yourself."
— Carlayne E. Jackson, MD, FAAN, Texas
- An international member
"Palatucci is a precious gift and considering the hard fact that only three international graduates are accepted each year—I think I am truly blessed!"
"I continue to be a neurologist working in India just the way I was before I became a graduate. However, I feel that my life was transformed by the Palatucci Forum.
"I can now believe in the impossible and work to make it happen—albeit, one tiny step at a time!"
- Mamta Bhushan Singh, MBBS, MD, DM, New Delhi, India
Read about the successes of our graduates.
- Jori Fleisher, MD
Class of 2012; Advisor, 2013, 2014
Health Care Disparities in Botswana
Jori Fleisher created a neurologic education plan for staff in Botswana's medical facilities. In 2011, she spent six weeks in the primary referral hospital in Gaborone providing direct inpatient and outpatient care to determine common conditions and availability of management resources. She incorporated critical information from "Where There is No Neurologist," by Gretchen Birbeck, MD, MPH, DTMH, FAAN, and the World Health Organization's mhGAP guidelines.
Fleisher returned Gaborone in 2012 to teach students and staﬀ at the main and district hospitals. Topics included diagnosis and management of stroke, epilepsy, altered mental status, headache syndromes, and neuroinfectious diseases. She developed a well-received pocket guide to neurology for resource-limited settings.
Fleisher is working with members of the Botswana-UPenn Partnership and local physicians to create national guidelines for the management of status epilepticus, ischemic stroke, intracranial hemorrhage, meningitis, and altered mental status.
She has partnered with a medical officer at Princess Marina Hospital to carry on Fleisher's curriculum project and lectures. This will continue to strengthen medical education and scholarly research, possibly serving as a model to bring specialty medical education to resource-limited settings.
- Saumya N. Gill, MD
Class of 2010; Advisor 2013
Challenges Improving Education for Veterans Diagnosed with Epilepsy
As a resident at Baylor College of Medicine, Saumya Gill encountered veterans diagnosed with epilepsy who often were not knowledgeable about their diagnosis, seizure types, antiepileptic medication, and AED side effects. Thus, Gill developed the Epilepsy Education Group (EEG) to educate the veteran population in her VA facility and their caregivers on how to identify different seizure types, provide ﬁrst aid, and use a seizure calendar, as well as recognize the importance of medication compliance.
During the monthly EEG meetings, war veterans share their experiences about living with epilepsy. These sessions also help educate family members and loved ones about the challenges veterans face as they live with epilepsy. Her study, submitted as a poster to the 2011 AAN Annual Meeting, found a statistically significant difference in the knowledge of epilepsy among veteran patients after attending the Epilepsy Education Group.
Gill expanded her educational eﬀorts by educating low-income patients with epilepsy at Harris County Hospital District-Ben Taub General Hospital. Preliminary data from this study was accepted as a poster for the American Epilepsy Society meeting in 2011.
- Constantine Moschonas, MD
Class of 2010; Advisor, 2011, 2012; Moderator 2013; Advocate of the Year, 2011
Improving Patient Knowledge About Brain Disease
Constantine Moschonas believes "knowledge is power," and by informing patients and their families in his Phoenix community about their neurologic diseases they gain the power to understand, ﬁght, and cope. With Scottsdale Healthcare sharing his goals and providing the venue, Moschonas has extended his patient education program Current Opinions in Neurology (COPIN) to standing room only.
Moschonas' passion for advocacy has been embraced by his family, who assist to ensure the success of COPIN. He has begun to engage other neurologists and hospitals in the hope that they may support and develop similar programs in their communities. Through the Palatucci Forum and the AAN's Medical Economics and Management Committee and Payment Policy Subcommittee, Moschonas also is strengthening relations between neurologists and health insurance carriers.
Moschonas helped arrange the ﬁrst health insurance medical director colloquium at the 2009 AAN Annual Meeting, where neurologists had the opportunity to discuss their concerns with national medical directors. He is passionate in his quest for advocacy, for both patients and neurologists, and carrying on the vision of Donald M. Palatucci, MD, FAAN.
- Nicholas E. Johnson, MD
Class of 2011; Advisor, 2013; Moderator, 2014; Advocate of the Year, 2012
National Resident Curriculum in Advocacy and Public Policy
Nicholas Johnson's goal was to create a comprehensive educational program for neurology residents to learn health policy. He developed a pilot study of a Health Policy Curriculum in webinar format and presented it to neurology residents at the University of Rochester, Mayo Jacksonville, and the University of Florida. The webinar topics include introduction to advocacy; compliance coding and documentation; insurer relations; and federal and state legislative and regulatory structure.
Additional webinars include health information technology, medical law, and pharmaceutical development and pricing, and patient safety and quality improvement. Participants received pre-tests and post-tests to measure results of the webinars. The tests are divided into several questions assessing overall interest and comfort with the subject and a knowledge-based exam. For the knowledge questions, the average percent correct on the pre-test was 67 percent and 77 percent on the post-test for the ﬁrst three lectures presented.
On the six interest questions, 17 respondents rated their interest/skill level more favorably on the post-test. Following this pilot, Johnson's objective is to oﬀer this series to all residency program directors for use.
- Jeffrey S. Kutcher, MD
Class of 2009; Advocate of the Year, 2010
As a team physician at the University of Michigan, Jeffrey Kutcher established an action plan to improve neurologic outcomes in athletes and to increase neurology's role in the care of these athletes. Working with fellow Palatucci Forum graduate Anthony Alessi, MD, FAAN, Kutcher co-founded the AAN's Sports Neurology Section in 2009 and served a term as chair. Under Kutcher's leadership, the section created a position statement on sports concussion, which received considerable attention from the media.
As an author of this statement, he gave numerous high-proﬁle media interviews to educate the public about the AAN's position on sports concussion. Kutcher credits his Palatucci Forum training with helping him prepare for numerous visits to Capitol Hill to advocate for enhanced protections against sports concussions for student athletes. Kutcher has testiﬁed on the subject of sports concussion before the US House Committee on the Judiciary in 2010 and before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation in 2011.
Kutcher is co-leading the update of the AAN's clinical practice guideline on sports concussion, which published in 2012.
- Jason J. Sico, MD
Class of 2009; Advisor, 2010, 2013
As both a neurology and internal medicine attending at Yale New Haven Hospital and the West Haven VA Medical Center, Jason Sico has cared for countless stroke survivors. As director of stroke care at his VA, Sico has championed improvement in the delivery of acute stroke therapies (i.e., t-PA) and the management of atherosclerotic vascular risk factors (e.g., hypertension, diabetes) necessary to best treat veterans.
Working with past Palatucci Forum graduate Glenn Graham, MD, PhD, FAAN, Sico established a successful acute t-PA protocol at his VA hospital. He enhanced stroke care through education sessions for internists, nursing, patients, and their families, and expanded a multidisciplinary stroke clinic. Other VA facilities are using his program in developing their own t-PA protocols.
Sico is working to improve atherosclerotic risk factor management among stroke survivors by developing interventions to facilitate communication between neurologists, internists, pharmacists, and rehabilitation therapists who may be unsure of their speciﬁc role in a post-stroke treatment plan, or when to initiate appropriate risk factor management therapies. Sico is collaborating within the national VA health care system to similarly improve communication.
- Javier Cárdenas, MD
Class of 2008; Advisor, 2009
Concussion and High School Athletes
Javier Cárdenas and the Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center collaborated with the Arizona Cardinals and Arizona Interscholastic Association (the governing body for high school sports) to create Barrow Brainbook, an online educational module on concussion designed for the high school athlete. It features computer-generated animation, video footage of actual concussions, and interviews with physicians, peers, and local professional athletes.
All high school athletes are required to pass a quiz at the end of the module before participating in any sport, and more than 100,000 Arizona high school athletes have completed the training. Cárdenas and his colleagues are building on the success of Barrow Brainbook by adding an online concussion registry, which is an IRB-approved research protocol for high school athletes from around the state. They also are providing baseline and post injury computerized cognitive tests (ImPACT) to every high school athlete in the state for free through a grant from Dick's Sporting Goods.
Finally, they are creating a professional network surrounding the issue of concussion including athletic trainers, primary care providers, and other health professionals statewide.
- Daniel C. Potts, MD
Class of 2008; Advisor, 2009; Faculty, 2010; Moderator, 2011; Advocate of the Year, 2008
Using Art Therapy for People with Alzheimer's
Inspired by his father's transformation from a rural Alabama lumberman to watercolor artist in a dementia daycare center's art therapy program, Daniel Potts has focused his advocacy eﬀorts on persons with dementia at home and in residential care settings and their caregivers. He promotes person-centered caregiving models that incorporate the expressive arts to bolster the sense of self, promote life story expression, foster dignity and maintain relationships throughout the course of the disease.
The Caring Days Dementia Daycare Center in Tuscaloosa, AL where his father lived, is an example of the comprehensive dementia care model Potts is advocating for on the local, state, and national levels. Successes include completion of a new $2 million home for Caring Days, a state-of-the-art model for person-centered dementia daycare (www.caringdays.org). Potts has created a foundation to promote enhanced quality of life through the expressive arts and storytelling (www.cognitivedynamics.org), which has developed a service learning program pairing students with persons who have dementia, utilizing art therapy to build intergenerational relationships and elicit life stories. In 2016, in collaboration with fellow PALF graduate, Neelum Aggarwal, MD, Potts expanded the program to Chicago.
Potts has published A Pocket Guide for the Alzheimer's Caregiver, Finding Joy in Alzheimer's: New Hope for Caregivers, and Treasure for Alzheimer's: Reflecting on experiences with the art of Lester E. Potts, Jr., and was Editor-in-Chief for the first-ever multi-faith collection of meditations for dementia caregivers, Seasons of Caring. He blogs monthly on MariaShriver.com, and has been designated by Shriver to be an "Architect of Change." Potts often contributes articles on advocacy in national publications (including Neurology® and Neurology Now®).
- Mamta Bhushan Singh, MBBS, MD, DM
Class of 2008; Advisor, 2010; Faculty, 2012, 2014; Advocate of the Year, 2009
Epilepsy Awareness in and Around New Delhi, India
In India, many people aﬀected by epilepsy are reluctant to seek medical treatment, and Mamta Bhushan Singh attributes this to a lower literacy rate in rural areas and cultural stigmas. Singh is applying her advocacy skills to increase epilepsy awareness and care through unique programs. She hosts a series of epilepsy camps in the suburbs and villages surrounding New Delhi, where she examines and counsels patients, prescribes medications, and oﬀers supplies when possible.
Singh participates in one-to-two-day stints on the Lifeline Express, a train hospital that provides portable medical treatment for the rural poor as it travels throughout India's remote countryside. More than 1,600 patients have been screened at 20 rural destinations. Singh seeks to expand epilepsy service on the Lifeline Express by installing an EEG machine and establishing a sustainable supply of medicine for indigent patients.
There is an ongoing eﬀort to identify alternate health care delivery models for these rural patients so that treatment is not interrupted. Singh plans to provide basic information on epilepsy to students and teachers at New Delhi area schools and in rural destinations.
- Tissa Wijeratne, MD, FRACP
Class of 2008; Advisor, 2009; Faculty, 2011
Stroke Care in Sri Lanka
Though now living in Australia, Tissa Wijeratne works to change the high incidence of strokes and stroke-related deaths in his native Sri Lanka. He collaborated with the nation's leading media company to produce and distribute 50,000 free booklets on stoke prevention. Wijeratne networked with leadership of the Association of Sri Lankan Neurologists and helped them host the ﬁrst International Stroke Conference in Sri Lanka, which drew massive media coverage due to attendance of prominent international stroke experts and public health oﬃcials.
To date, he has conducted 57 stroke care workshops throughout Sri Lanka. He has a strong ally in Dr. Padma Gunaratne, president of the National Stroke Association of Sri Lanka.
The association educated health professionals and the public through the World Stroke Organization's "World Stroke Day" in 2009 and received the Gold Medal for best campaign. Wijeratne is collaborating on a stroke network among Sri Lanka, Australia, England, the United States, and New Zealand.
Several Sri Lankan post-graduate trainees will commence PhDs in stroke medicine through this network, and four Sri Lankan neurology trainees are completing stroke fellowships in Wijeratne's parent institution, Western Health, Melbourne.
- Terri Postma, MD
Class of 2007; Advisor, 2008; Faculty, 2010
Reviving the Common-wealth Neurological Society of Kentucky
Improving communication, education, and advocacy support for neurologists in the commonwealth of Kentucky was at the heart of Terri Postma's advocacy action plan. She credits her training at the Palatucci Forum for helping her successfully revive the Commonwealth Neurological Society and lead its ﬁrst annual meeting in Lexington in October 2007.
Postma was the 2008-2009 Kenneth M. Viste, Jr., MD, Public Policy Fellow in Washington, DC, where she offered her insights on health reform as she served with the Senate Finance Committee (Minority Staﬀ, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-IA).
Following the completion of her fellowship, she took up her current post at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) where she continues to offer clinical insight and advises senior leadership during policy development and implementation of Medicare delivery system reforms.