Honoring Excellence: Q and A with Beverly Aiyanyor, MD

Beverly Aiyanyor, MD and her colleagues are recipients of the 2022 ACGME David C. Leach Award

This interview is one in a series of interviews with recipients of the 2022 ACGME Awards. The awardees join an outstanding group of previous honorees whose work and contributions to graduate medical education (GME) represent the best in the field. They will be honored at the ACGME Annual Educational Conference, taking place virtually March 30-April 1, 2022.

2022 David C. Leach Awardee Beverly Aiyanyor, MD is an attending physician in the Boston Children’s Hospital Network. At the time of the nomination, Dr. Aiyanyor was a senior resident in pediatrics at the Boston Combined Residency Program at Boston Medical Center and Boston Children's Hospital. She represents a team of about 20 who worked on this project, including senior residents Dr. Neha Limaye and Dr. Rohini Jain.

ACGME: Why did you want to become a physician?

Dr. Aiyanyor: When I was younger, the idea behind becoming a physician was a want to pursue a career that combined my two biggest interests, love of science and love of people. As I progressed into adulthood, I was constantly faced with medical illness in my family and my community. It developed more into a passion and a calling to equip others with the medicine to alleviate suffering, and knowledge and tools to combat health disparities, especially in those of under-resourced communities.

ACGME: What, so far, has been the most rewarding part of your residency/fellowship?

Aiyanyor: The most rewarding part of my residency has been the people. By people, I mean that in two distinct ways. The people who are my patients, who I get the honor of serving and treating during their must vulnerable moments. Secondly, the people who are my co-residents, residency program leaders, and mentors. I have been inspired by this group of individuals who fiercely advocate for their patients and come to work daily with a passion for medicine and teamwork.

ACGME: What has been the most challenging?

Aiyanyor: The most challenging part of residency was navigating being a resident physician during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Outside of the physical exhaustion that is typically expected with being a resident, this period was accompanied by additional emotional and mental stress due to the uncertainties of the disease and its impact on our patients, health care system, and our loved ones.

ACGME: What innovation/improvement did you implement in your program?

Aiyanyor: Established in 2016 within the Boston Medical Center’s Department of Pediatrics, Health Equity Rounds is a resident-led longitudinal, case-based conference series with a curriculum that addresses the impacts of structural racism and bias on patient care. We provide historical and present-day context to clinical cases, use evidence-based strategies to recognize biases and build empathy, and propose actional next steps.

ACGME: What does it mean to you to receive this award?

Aiyanyor: It is an absolute honor to have the Health Equity Rounds Team named as recipients of this award. Our goal is to use medical education as a tool to combat implicit bias and racism and to empower ourselves with the skillset to do so. This recognition informs others in the national graduate medical education community about this crucial work and sends a message that this work is valued and needed for our patients.

ACGME: What advice would you give to other residents/fellows who are looking to either replicate your improvement or implement an original idea of their own in their own program?

Aiyanyor: We have been expanding this curriculum to various residency programs across the country and have various resources if anyone is interested in incorporating this at their own institution. Visit https://www.bmc.org/health-equity-rounds or contact us at HealthEquityRounds@bmc.org. We also have an article on MedEdPortal that further discusses our methodology and offers some sample cases: (Perdomo, Joanna, et al. 2019. “Health Equity Rounds: An Interdisciplinary Case Conference to Address Implicit Bias and Structural Racism for Faculty and Trainees.” MedEdPORTAL).