Faculty Spotlight: Joel Boggan, MD

Boggan_JoelJoel Boggan, MD, officially joined the division this fall, making him one of the newest additions to the division faculty. In this week’s faculty spotlight, we talk to him about his experience as chief resident of quality improvement and patient safety, his work in Quality Improvement, using Twitter professionally, and great places to eat in Durham.

Although you’re new to the division, you’re no stranger to Duke. Can you tell me about your experience here before you joined the division of General Internal Medicine?

I first came to Durham back in 2004 as a medical student. When my wife and I were looking for residencies (and couples matching), Duke was the one place we agreed on and we were lucky to stay. My medical school experience was marked by great mentors and this was a place we were definitely comfortable remaining for our residency training.

What are your major responsibilities within the Division? What does a typical day for you look like?
My clinical responsibilities are all as a hospitalist at the VA. The schedule varies week-to-week or month-to-month, so I think I’m just now getting more familiar with it. On weekdays I’m not working clinically, I’m often working either over at the Faculty Lounge or the VA, depending on the project for that day.

Last year you were the chief resident of quality improvement and patient safety. What was that experience like?
Fantastic! The position offered the opportunity to be heavily involved with the residency program in a leadership position, have great mentorship with Drs. Klotman, Simel, and Zaas, gain some additional training and experience with patient safety and quality improvement through some of the CRQS-specific VA training, and explore projects of personal interest and interest to the hospital systems. Plus, I had the advantage of working alongside three fabulous physicians that were also my close friends. We just had Match Day for our SARs this past Wednesday, and it was great to go and share in that celebration with them!

You’ve made quality improvement a major focus of your work. What quality improvement projects are you working on at the moment?
Right now, I’m working on tying up some projects from last year on echocardiography ordering at the VA, infectious complications after nontraditional surgical procedures, and helping some of our residents finish up some projects on lab follow-up, telemetry utilization, and discharge processes they’ve been working on. Once those are completed, I hope to turn my attention to some items of specific interest to the VA, particularly the national metrics that are being used to assess VA care.

In addition to your degree in medicine, you have a master’s degree in public health. How has that influenced your practice?
During residency, I think having obtained the MPH first helped me read the literature. As I began to work on various projects later in residency, it helped me think about and develop projects. Over the past year, I’ve been able to revisit some of my statistics training and build on that foundation, which has helped me analyze some of the data I’ve been fortunate enough to have access to. And finally, it has helped me work on some community health projects in Haiti, which has been an important passion of mine since medical school.

How long have you maintained your Twitter account? How does using Twitter help your professional work?
I started my Twitter account early in my chief year because there was a Chiefs account (@DukeMarines) and I wanted to learn more about the platform. I’ve since found it to be a really interesting and efficient source of professional development – the top journals distill their articles using Twitter, other researchers and thought leaders comment on that literature and their own work, and you can also follow the dissemination of that work in the more popular media. And, when you have your own work or thoughts you want to share, you have that ability. I think I’m slowly dragging some more people into it for those reasons.

Have you recently read any articles, websites, books or other material that would be of interest to the division?
I think some people might be interested by some of the new media commentary on healthcare and healthcare reform. Specifically, I think some of the commentary over the last few months on ProPublica and Vox has been very informative. Other than that, I’m currently reading John Feinstein’s book on Minor League Baseball, ‘Where Nobody Knows Your Name’. I’m a baseball fan and the Bulls and several of their players feature prominently in sections of the book.

What kinds of passions or hobbies do you have outside of the division?
My wife and I love to travel and hike and are planning a trip to Peru next month with a trek to Choquequirao. I grew up right outside the Smokies, so there are also places a lot closer to Durham than Peru that we love to visit. I’m also diversifying my cooking skills with the aid of one of the local food co-op boxes, and I have rediscovered pleasure reading since starting the chief year. If anyone has any recommendations, I’m almost finished with the Minor Leagues book…

You’ve been at Durham for a while now. What’s your favorite local place to eat?
Our favorite restaurant is probably Watts Grocery, since the food is great and it’s in our neighborhood. The other places we end up frequently are Cosmic Cantina (a favorite since medical school), Federal, and Pizzeria Toro. She’s from Texas, so we disagree about barbecue styles, but I really love any place serving Eastern NC BBQ.