Faculty highlight: New grand rounds director

Dr. Carl BergmanIt takes only a minute of interacting with Carl J. “Christian” Bergman, M.D., C.M.D., to get a sense of his excitement about his new role as the medicine grand rounds director. He has a clear vision for how he wants to serve and how he plans to develop an innovative grand rounds educational product in the “post-Zoom” era.

“In this ever-changing environment,” Bergman says, “we have to think creatively about how to maximize the educational need, but also ensure that we extend our reach to as many faculty, trainees and colleagues as possible.”

Bergman is board-certified in internal medicine and geriatric medicine. He attended medical school at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia, and completed his internal medicine residency and geriatric medicine fellowship at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia. His clinical practice focuses on post-acute and long-term care medicine with active medical directorship.

“I am a rehab specialist and a long-term care primary care physician practicing in nursing homes,” he says. “I see patients who are recently discharged from the hospital and recovering from complex medical and surgical needs. I also serve as the primary care physician for complex and vulnerable older adults residing in nursing homes — with more than 60% having some level of dementia — and focus on maximizing their function and quality of life.”

Bergman is currently an assistant professor at VCU, where he is focusing on improving transitions of care throughout the VCU Health System and is actively involved in teaching medical students, residents and geriatric fellows.

What do you love about working at VCU?

The innovation, leadership and provider camaraderie.

What defines your approach to patient care?

Compassion and empathy. I want patients to truly believe that we care and that we aim to maximize their quality of life through an emphasis on advance care planning, mobility and mentation. Everything we do is based in the 4 Ms Framework for an age-friendly health system: what matters, mobility, medications and Mentation.

What are your research interests?

Models of care and care transitions in post-acute and long-term care medicine and nursing home policy reform. I’m also interested in educating nursing home staff through innovative performance improvement projects with a focus on implementation science.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I’m a husband and father of two and I enjoy being outdoors with family. I also enjoy working with my hands in the yard and on building projects. I’m working on a climbing wall and tree fort for my kids and, ultimately, a swing set.

What do you consider your strengths that you will bring to your new position as medicine grand rounds director?

Since coming to VCU in July 2018, I have worked with the Division of Geriatric Medicine and professional associations on organizing local, regional and national conferences for continuing education credits. Two of my strongest skills are organization and communication.

I do not have decades of clinical or research experience, nor do I pretend to be a subject matter expert in medical education. However, I have a strong foundation in patient-centered complex care for vulnerable adults and I focus on delivering such care in a complex post-acute and long-term care environment. Fundamental to medical grand rounds is compassion and empathy. I think it is important that the grand rounds director be able to collaborate with the speakers to highlight the need for a patient-centered, clinically-oriented and socially-diverse presentation.

What are some immediate goals for grand rounds?

I would like to re-establish and chair the Department of Internal Medicine’s Grand Rounds Steering Committee. I hope to meet quarterly and provide oversight and guidance to the selection of speakers and curricular content. In addition, I want to meet with the department’s educational leadership and the grand rounds coordinator to better understand the logistics of our grand rounds and maximize our reach.

What are some of your innovative ideas for the future of grand rounds?

I am excited about the potential future of the department’s medical grand rounds. I hope my interests, background and innovative ideas for future content are of value.

I would like to consider offering 25% of the grand round events virtually to increase audience reach.

When selecting topics and speakers, I think we should have a balanced approach to make sure we select a panel of speakers with a broad background and social interests. Actual implementation of this would be at the guidance of department leadership and the Grand Rounds Steering Committee.

I would like to ask speakers from the department to think about chronic disease management and highlight, from a patient perspective, a journey through the care continuum. I want us to think about population health, remote-patient monitoring, post-acute care, and more. It would also be great if we could invite actual patients.