Sanford School of Medicine School of Medicine

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Turi McNamee, M.D.

Turi McNamee, M.D., family medicine, residency program director

Keeping Curriculum Fresh                    


By Kim Lee

It's the prospect of shaping young residents' minds that piques the interest of Turi McNamee, M.D.

As director of the internal medicine residency program at the Sanford School of Medicine, McNamee loves to tailor learning experiences for medical residents, and especially enjoys injecting new educational components into the residency curriculum.

By being constantly on the lookout for new ways to do ordinary things, McNamee is able to employ methods that create unique ways to deliver opportunities for residents to learn better.

For example, with the introduction of Avera McKennan Hospital's eICU® CARE telemedicine program, McNamee saw a novel educational opportunity. eICU brings the latest in telemedicine and ICU care by connecting critical care experts to multiple ICU patients in the Avera system.

Working with on-site hospital ICU staff, the eICU team uses the latest networking technology to monitor and quickly react to any changes in the condition or vital signs of patients. "From an educational point of view, it's a very interesting and data-rich environment," McNamee said. "So I designed a rotation so residents could learn from that experience as an elective."

McNamee can also be credited with redesigning the geriatrics rotation so that it's more streamlined and more pertinent to what residents need to know by incorporating more wound care, home visits and geriatric psychiatry.

McNamee has South Dakota roots - she grew up in Canton for the most part - but became an East Coast transplant during her teenage years. Upon completion of her schooling at the University of Chicago, she returned to the East Coast for a residency at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Mass. After practicing there for a few years, McNamee and her family decided a move back to South Dakota was in order.

Although it might seem trivial, metropolitan traffic was a huge consideration in the decision to move back to the Midwest. "I thought I'd get used to it, but one day as I sat in traffic with a toddler in tow, it occurred to me that this was a colossal waste of time," she said.

Like most physicians, McNamee gravitated to the sciences all through school. But her plans weren't always set in stone. After briefly considering family practice, and after time spent working in a lab helped her realize that wasn't her cup of tea, McNamee settled on specializing in internal medicine. "I realized I needed more interaction with people, getting to know them. The fact that I liked sciences and working with people made medicine, specifically internal medicine, the perfect marriage of the two," she said.

Her investigative nature also lends itself to her contributions to online discussion forums and blogs, as she shares her thoughts as a professional on a variety of topics, from what's trending in medicine to physician workload.

Now, as she shares her medical acumen with residents, she helps mold learning experiences. As a mentor, McNamee has served as an advisor to younger female counterparts, as part of a partnership program for new residents. In her experience, she's found that it's not so much a challenge to be a female physician; more so, it's a challenge to be a mother who happens to be a physician. However, for McNamee, those challenges are abated by her secrets to a good work-life balance. In addition to her children's activities, she is an avid exerciser, and this summer, she joined a recreational soccer league "much to the amusement of my friends," McNamee said with a smile. "It's a lot of fun."

At the end of the day, McNamee feels returns on her efforts by knowing she is making the internal medicine residency program as good as it can possibly be. "I like seeing these residents as they become actual doctors. Seeing them evolve from students into practicing doctors is gratifying."