Please join us in congratulating Dr. Jeff Herrala, the 2023 ACEP-EMRA National Clinical Pathologic Conference Competition Resident Runner Up! This is an annual national competition that began last November with EM residency programs from across the country submitting mystery cases.
Over 120 programs entered cases into the competition with the top 72 selected for presentations at the semi-finals round held this past March at the Council of Residency Directors in Las Vegas. Faculty from competitor programs endeavor to solve cases these real patient cases from residency programs, typically classic presentations of rare diseases or atypical presentations of common diseases, with the winners of the semi-final division progressing to the national finals.
Dr. Herrala won his division in a field of 12 competing residency programs in Las Vegas, advancing to the national finals held earlier this week in Philadelphia. Jeff expertly presented a case of Jakob-Creutzfeld Disease suspected and worked up in station 3 of the Highland ED based on the dramatic presentation of a young man with a rapidly declining neurologic condition. This is literally a one-in-a-million disease where the confirmatory laboratory testing was ultimately completed at the Cleveland Clinic (thank you Dr. Valerie Ng!). Jeff and fellow residents were able to mobilize resources to pursue this condition which could easily have been missed as it is so very rare.
Dr. Herrala’s presentation was remarkable not only for the medicine he taught the audience, but the humanity and empathy evident in the care. His teaching points also highlighted the importance of securing wrap-around care for the patient and their family. Medicine can all too often be cold, scientific and transactional. The kindness we manifest is just as important as the tests we choose to order. Dr. Herrala’s presentation was a master class in what it means to care for the whole patient, thinking beyond the initial disposition, and mobilizing the many members of the healthcare team.
Lastly, many thanks to the entire Highland EM Class of 2024 and associate PD Gabe Sudario who were there to cheer on Dr. Herrala, to everyone who supported in the preparation for this competition, and to the small army of clinicians and staff from EM, Internal Medicine, Neurology, Radiology, Laboratory/Pathology, Medical Social Work, Nursing, and Physician Therapy who were part of this patient’s journey!