For this week’s spotlight, Dana Tucker who has been working at the Durham VA for 23 years tells us about the past four, now with general internal medicine. She describes her many responsibilities, tells about her family, and poignantly shares the experience of losing several family members last year. Here are the responses to our interview questions.
How long have you been at the division of General Internal Medicine?
My affiliation with DGIM started in January of 2010. I began as a research assistant to Drs. Oddone and Weinberger. As years passed I became a project coordinator for many investigators, some still remain here at HSR&D and others have since left the service. I took over as the fellowship coordinator and grants manager when my predecessor Kathy Weatherspoon retired.
What are your responsibilities within the division?
I. Management of program tracking and grant submissions
My official title is “Health Science Specialist” in the HSR&D Center of Innovation (COIN). As a program manager I organize and conduct weekly research meetings with the research fellows. I am also responsible for organization of the recruitment process for OAA (Office of Academic Affairs), the post-doctoral fellows, grant management support, COIN and publication reporting. I also serve as a mentor and trainer to other less experienced research personnel in the COIN.
II. Maintains Center schedules and resource files
Throughout my career as program manager I have assisted various investigators with the writing of their research career science award applications, renewal documents, and documents needed to complete merit review submissions. I assist the hospital Talent Management System administrator with validating research contract employees, adding new training requirements, and recording completed training courses from other departments in the hospital. I also maintain and submit IRB/R&D review for the fellows program along with the COIN review.
III. Customer Service
I would say that customer service is the biggest part of my job.
My personal mission is to continuously provide outstanding customer service and exceed standards to ensure I provide both internal and external HSR&D customers with outstanding service and support.
I remain consistently aware of the various privacy and information/data security rules and regulations specific to research. Just recently I provided oversight and review of several documents that were developed to ensure proper and secure handling of research data.
IV. Supports Center Mission
I am dedicated in supporting our HSR&D COIN and try to provide continuous support of the VA research mission. I try to set examples for subordinates in following departmental procedures regarding the process of obtaining informed consent and HIPPA authorization in the conduct of human subject research.
What does a typical day for you look like?
Currently I am working on various tasks. I have been assisting investigators with their research reporting for VA and NIH. I am assisting Maren Olsen, PhD, and our OIT group to organize and document folders and content on the VA network P drive. I am also working on credentialing a few of our staff and a new hire. During all of this I am trying to input data needed for our annual report which will be due in early December. Our center is also gearing up for grant submissions so I am preparing documents for investigators that they will need for successful submissions.
What passions or hobbies do you have outside of the division?
I love my family, watching my son play baseball, playing tennis (especially when I win), walking my dogs, petting my cat, working in my yard, fashion trends, and I love food and dining out at new restaurants in the area. I really appreciate living in North Carolina and the beauty that each day brings.
My daughter Gabrielle just graduated from ECU in May 2015 and is teaching Psychology and American History at Riverside High school in Durham. Also, pictured is my son Sam. He is 14 years old and was graduating from middle school, now a freshman at Riverside High School.
My children have grown up to fast!!!! Someone put my life on fast forward!
Have you recently read any books, articles, blog posts or other material that would be of interest to the division?
Not to be morose but I come from a huge family and in the last 2 months I have lost 3 family members. Most recently my sister-in-law passed at the beginning of this month from a difficult battle with ovarian cancer. Caitlin Sullivan, here in the VA, shared the August issue of The Sun magazine with me as it contained an article on dying and it really shed some enlightenment on what I and my family are going through. The article is entitled, “As We Lay Dying – Stephen Jenkinson On How We Deny Our Mortality”, by Erik Hoffner.. I am including the link for you as you may find this enlightening as well. http://thesunmagazine.org/issues/476/jenkinson_dying