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Morgantown, West Virginia
Associate director, West Virginia University Stroke Center; Director, West Virginia University Center for Teleneurology and Telestroke
Assistant professor, West Virginia University School of MedicineVIEW PROFILE
Amelia Adcock, M.D. (TY ’10, N ’13, CBVD ’16), likes a challenge. She spent a couple of years in the Peace Corps in Paraguay and attended medical school in Puerto Rico for the bilingual culture opportunity. Now she’s associate director of the West Virginia University Stroke Center and director of the Center for Teleneurology and Telestroke. She’s starting a stroke fellowship and conducting stroke research. She’s half of a two-physician couple with three kids under 5. Finding balance in her life so she’s fulfilled professionally and personally is a top priority and her biggest challenge.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do. What did I have to offer? I was creative, curious and willing to try new things. I’d had some amazing opportunities and thought I should spend some of my energy volunteering in some way. I had traveled some and liked learning about other cultures and languages. I worked in a small village in Paraguay on a health-related project.
Health became a recurring theme in my life — the importance of knowledge about your health, how to remain healthy, and how to treat health conditions on a personal and community level. My Peace Corps experience crystallized how I saw acquisition of medical knowledge and what you can do with it. When I returned home, I got serious about medicine.
After that, I worked in a Spanish-speaking community in Denver in women’s health while I was applying to medical school. I saw Puerto Rico on a website as a medical school option and got excited by the possibility of living and working in a bilingual location while still getting training in an LCGME-accredited U.S. medical school.
Mayo Clinic was my first interview for residency. I was so impressed by the rapport of people in the program, the curriculum and the infrastructure. I felt like it was a place where I could belong.
I went to West Virginia University, where my husband was doing an emergency medicine residency. WVU needed stroke physicians, and I became the de facto stroke physician. I was comfortable managing acute stroke care, but I lacked fellowship training so, when my husband completed his residency, we returned to Mayo Clinic in Arizona for my vascular neurology fellowship. After my year of training, we returned to WVU determined to take advantage of its unique practice environment.
I feel most fulfilled when I connect disparate groups and build bridges to improve patient care, research a new idea and build teams who are passionate about the same goal.
Improving access to care is paramount across the nation but is especially critical in a geographically challenging, low-resource state with one of the highest rates of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality like West Virginia. My leadership roles in education and program infrastructure have facilitated opportunities to improve patient outcomes. I’m building a stroke fellowship from the ground up with the goal of training and recruiting more vascular neurologists to improve care for our state. In addition, working at the statewide and institutional level, the development and maturation of what hopefully will remain a sustainable telemedicine program will further address the lack of access many of my patients face.
My research looks at post-stroke depression and the potential inflammatory causes of it. I’m involved with a clinical trial of transcranial magnetic stimulation, which is FDA-approved for refractory major depression and migraine prevention. I’m also the PI on several multicenter clinical trials including Mayo Clinic’s CREST II examining the optimal management of asymptomatic carotid disease.
Mayo Clinic is a world-renowned organization that’s historically ahead of its time. Mayo builds bridges and teams with different interests and is stronger because of that teamwork. Mayo conceived of that multidisciplinary, comprehensive approach back in the Dr. Will and Dr. Charlie days. Mayo Clinic is regarded as a trailblazer but also the standard of care people look to — both innovative and traditionalist.
I am a supplemental faculty member at Mayo Clinic in Arizona for tele-stroke care. I reach out to Mayo when I have challenging stroke cases, and I appreciate being able to do that. The Mayo culture is all about communication and collaboration. I try to use that in my practice.
I keep in close touch with my primary mentor at Mayo Clinic, Bart Demaerschalk, M.D. (N ’01, Department of Neurology).
The challenges post-training are different challenges. There’s less psychological stress compared to training. You can feel beaten down a lot during training with all the unknowns and lack of control over your schedule.
At this point, my career is intersecting with a very busy time in my life.
I had my first child at the end of residency and my second during fellowship. I just had my third at the end of July. This pregnancy was actually the hardest because I’m involved with so many things and have more responsibilities, including balancing two young children. I recently learned I received an institutional K grant for a stroke project, which will be a mammoth undertaking. I want to contribute meaningfully to the field of stroke so what I do day to day matters.
The most challenging thing now is prioritizing work projects and knowing when to let things go. I have a finite amount of resources of time and energy. I need to make sure my family feels like a priority. We’re a two-physician family with three kids under age 5. I am covering stroke service and tele-call in addition to my academic commitments. My husband works nine days a month — mostly at a rural location. He can be gone for 48 hours at a time. We don’t have any family in the area, but our medical center does have on-site day care. We’re hoping to have a nanny arranged soon.
I’m trying to get balance right so I’m fulfilled and have a meaningful life at work and outside of work.
I talk to other women physicians about why we get excluded from certain things, what to do when you can’t make a work commitment because you have to pick up your kids, what needs to change to level the playing field, and other issues related to fairness and transparency.
We like to fish and hike, and I like to exercise.
We travel. We took the kids to France in the spring, to Ireland for a wedding last summer and to Japan for the World Federation of Neurology conference. With a third child, we might be limited to car trips for a while.
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