Faculty Spotlight: Aubrey Jolly Graham, MD


This week’s Spotlight is about Aubrey Jolly Graham, MD, a hospitalist and medical educator who came to Duke ten years ago for her Internal Medicine Residency and has stayed with us ever since. Hear how she balances being a hospitalist, educator, wife, mother of four, and even finds time to volunteer!

How long have you been at Duke? How long have you been in the division of General Internal Medicine? 

I came to Duke in 2006 for residency (through 2009), then joined Hospital Medicine faculty.  I initially thought it may be short-term between residency and fellowship, but have absolutely loved it, and decided to make it a career!  I have a passion for medical education as well as patient safety and quality, and Hospital Medicine has been a perfect intersection of clinical, education, and quality/safety work.

What are your responsibilities within the division? What does a typical day for you look like?
I round as a hospitalist both on the gen med services with the students and residents, as well as on the more traditional hospitalist services, rounding independently or with a sub-I or selective medical student.  I love the balance between the two!  I have intensive clinical weeks (7 or 14 days straight on service), alternating with periods of little to no clinical duties.  In these lighter weeks I focus on my educational and non-clinical interests which I’ve highlighted below.
I have the privilege of serving as the Associate Director of the Clinical Skills Course, which is a year-long, longitudinal course for the MS2’s.  The course equips the students for the wards and covers core clinical topics such as lab and ECG interpretation, differential diagnosis, clinical reasoning, handoffs, quality improvement, and evidence-based medicine.This year I joined the Practice Course as a small group faculty leader, also a longitudinal year-long course for MS2’s, focusing more on professionalism, communication, and complex patient care topics (death & dying, spirituality, palliative care, dealing with difficult patients).  It has been a joy to get to know medical students and support their education in a different way than occurs on clinical service!
Could you tell us more about your role in Hospital Medicine?

In addition to clinical work and medical student education noted above, I am passionate about the topic of handoffs of care.  Over the years I’ve run several workshops and conferences on handoffs, including Medicine Grand Rounds, and a workshop at the Duke Patient Safety Conference on this topic last year.  I help lead a weekly resident report on patient safety, and have been involved in an interdisciplinary quality improvement initiative on Catheter-Associated UTI (CAUTI) reduction that has been remarkably successful on the gen med wards.

Hospital Medicine affords me the ability to balance clinical work, education, and some small research and QI projects, as well as a busy family life.  I have 4 young children.  I had the first the day I finished residency at Duke (July 2nd, 2009), and have had 3 others since.  I’ve had lots of wonderful role models within Hospital Medicine who also have 3-4 kids, and I think the Raleigh-Durham area is the best place in the country to raise a family!


How did you get into internal medicine?
IM was not what I thought I would go into when I entered medical school, but it was my first clinical rotation and I fell in love with it immediately.
I rapidly realized I enjoyed the care of medically complex patients, the opportunity to build relationships with them and support them through severe illness, and the challenge of difficult diagnoses and complex interplays of disease. The day I interviewed at Duke for residency, I knew it was the right fit for me and was THRILLED to match at Duke.  My enthusiastic response to opening my match envelope was photographed by a local newspaper on match day and featured on the front page the following day!
How has your subject area changed (or where you see future changes)?   Hospital Medicine is a fairly new field and has grown tremendously in the past 10 years.  I’ve seen growth within our faculty group as we’ve become more active in hospital-based quality and safety work and have taken on leadership roles in these areas.  I think this growth will continue.  I am passionate about taking the practical knowledge and skills gained in the practice of hospital medicine and patient safety and then developing curriculum to teach our students and residents about these topics.
Graham Family-26

Dr. Jolly Graham with her husband and four children.

What passions or hobbies do you have outside of the division?

Over the course of my residency training, my husband and I started attending a local church and have grown tremendously in our Christian faith.  He has now transitioned to a full-time ministry career as a Pastor at the Summit Church.   I am very involved in our church-based community group and lead some women’s bible studies and events.

My faith and desire to give back to the community, as well as a desire to keep up some of my outpatient Internal Medicine skills led me to start volunteering at the Samaritan Health Center a few years ago.  It’s a free community health clinic in Durham that is based at the Durham Rescue Mission but open to the public.  While I haven’t been able to serve there as much as I’d like given the growth of my family, I am passionate about their mission and vision and have loved serving there and hope to increase my involvement in the future.  I am excited to see many other faculty, residents, and students get involved there in the past year and thrilled to see Duke’s support of these efforts!

Have you recently read any books, articles, blog posts or other material that would be of interest to the division?
I recently read “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson. “Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.”
– It was a riveting and staggering window into the criminal justice system and a wonderful read.  I would highly recommend it!