Faculty Spotlight: Stephen Telloni, MD


Stephen Telloni, MD

Meet Dr. Stephen Telloni, a DUH hospitalist since finishing his residency in 2013. Learn what this former Chief Resident from UNC shares about choosing his career and check out his life balance – sports, medicine, and family. Is that photo already a Duke blue shirt? Get to know Steve through our interview and, better yet, we hope you’ll meet him in person.

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

I have been in the Triangle since the summer of 2009 after I completed medical school at The Ohio State University (go Buckeyes!).  However, I did not come to Duke and the Division of General Internal Medicine until July 2013, spending the previous 4 years just down 15-501 in Chapel Hill at UNC completing my internal medicine residency training.

What are your responsibilities within the division? What does a typical day for you look like?

I am a physician in the Hospital Medicine Department here at Duke University Hospital.  Being an academic hospitalist, my main responsibilities for the Division revolve around caring and advocating for our hospitalized patients, teaching and instructing our outstanding housestaff physicians and PA/medical students, and participating in projects that improve the quality of the care we provide.  My typical day is pretty variable.  On some weeks, I serve as the attending physician on one of our general medicine teaching services, supervising a medical team consisting of a senior resident, two interns, and several medical or PA students.  On other weeks, I round by myself on one of our general medicine non-teaching service lines, providing direct care for our general medicine inpatients.  And still during other weeks, I staff the hospital medicine procedure service, supervising and/or performing various bedside procedures, such as paracenteses, thoracenteses, lumbar punctures, and arthrocenteses, around the hospital.  It is this variability in my job which keeps me on my toes and makes this job incredibly exciting and rewarding.

How did you get into this field?

I have always highly admired the general practitioner, stemming from watching my mother, a nurse practitioner, work in a family medicine practice during my youth.  Then, while training as a resident, I found myself gravitating toward the care of acutely ill patients,  and I was unable to satisfactorily narrow my future scope of practice to a single specialty.  Finally, while serving as one of the chief residents at UNC, I found that I wanted a job where I would be actively involved in the education of young learners.  Fortunately, I have found a field that could fulfill all of these interests as an academic hospitalist here at Duke.

How has your subject area changed (or where you see future changes)? 
As I’m now halfway through my third year with the Division and the Department of Hospital Medicine, I have had some great opportunities to continue to advance my career.  First, I am honored to continue to receive more opportunities to attend on our general medicine teaching services and be a part of the development and growth of the outstanding housestaff and students we have at Duke.  Second, I have enjoyed being involved in a wonderful multidisciplinary quality improvement project, called Move for 20, centered on the early and safe mobilization of our patients.  This project has great potential to do a lot of good for our patients by getting them out of bed early and often, with the goal of maintaining and/or improving their functional status while hospitalized.

There is still a lot of work that needs to be done in this area, and I am looking forward to helping the project grow and evolve into a more effective therapeutic modality for our patients.

Finally, just this month, I have joined The Duke Health Mortality Review team.  We systematically review every death that occurs at Duke University Hospital in the hopes of discovering opportunities to improve the safety of our patients and the quality of care we provide them here at Duke.  I think this is another great avenue that can allow me to make a difference for the hospital and our patients.

Family pic at the race.jpg

Steve with Wife, Stacy and Daughter, Julia

What passions or hobbies do you have outside of the division? 
For me, the essence of maintaining a good work-life balance is centered in staying physically active.  My two favorite ways of staying physically active are running and playing basketball.  I try to run at least 3 times a week.  Some of my favorite venues for running outdoors are the nearby Al Buehler Trail at the Washington Duke Inn and the American Tobacco Trail.  I completed my first marathon in St. Louis in April of 2014 and hope to attempt another full marathon in the future.  As for basketball, I play regularly with a group of guys at the UNC gyms on Tuesdays and Thursdays and am currently participating in two leagues in Chapel Hill and Hillsborough.  The highlight of my adult basketball playing days has to be the annual Duke Medicine Resident-Faculty basketball game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.  The Faculty owe some payback to the Residents this year after we were defeated pretty soundly last year. Otherwise, I enjoy biking, going on hiking trips with my wife (we conquered the Grand Canyon a few years ago and plan on tackling the Rockies in Colorado this summer), playing piano, binge-watching TV shows on Netflix (I recently completed all 7 seasons of Mad Men), going to the movies, and following Cleveland and Ohio State sports teams.

Have you recently read any books, articles, blog posts or other material that would be of interest to the division?
Following the habit of one my of my mentors at UNC, the legendary Dr. Steve Kizer, I read the New England Journal of Medicine and JAMA every week.  A great article I just read in this week’s NEJM is a perspective article entitled “Medical Taylorism” by Drs. Pamela Hartzband and Jerome Groopman.  It is an interesting view on how economic pressures have forced the field of medicine to place a large emphasis on systematic efficiency–the “Taylorism” concept that had been adopted by car manufacturing companies like Toyota–in order to improve quality of care and patient safety.  Although it has worked in some areas of medicine (reduction of hospital-acquired infections and timeliness of care for MIs and strokes), its over-emphasis is contributing to physician burnout, cutting into the unstructured time that is crucial to a strong patient-physician relationship, and increasing physicians’ cognitive errors that stem from the squeeze on–and lack of perceived value of–physicians’ time to think about their patients.

What is a fun fact about you that people may not know?

I am the proud first-time father of a beautiful 6-month little girl, Julia Marie.  It’s been a joy watching her grow and develop into a little person, and I am excited for all the moments that my wife and I will share in with her in the future.