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Academy Awards

Date: October 27, 2014

Hugh Calkins was among 11 recent Miller-Coulson Academy inductees recognized for providing exceptional clinical care.
Hugh Calkins was among 11 recent Miller-Coulson Academy inductees recognized for providing exceptional clinical care.

Electrophysiologist Hugh Calkins has written some 450 papers about heart irregularities and serves as president of the 6,000-member Heart Rhythm Society. He’s been a full professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine for more than a decade and directs the hospital’s arrhythmia service and electrophysiology laboratory.

Yet in May, when Calkins was inducted into Johns Hopkins’ Miller-Coulson Academy of Clinical Excellence, it marked the first time he had been honored for the work that takes place in his small exam room and on his operating table. 

“Until now,” he says, “there’s been no recognition [at The Johns Hopkins Hospital] for being an excellent clinician, other than that you get to keep your job.”

The program to recognize clinical excellence began in 2006, when Sarah Miller Coulson and Frank Coulson donated $1 million to the Center for Innovative Medicine at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. The center’s director, rheumatologist David Hellmann, used the funding to answer a question posed by Sarah’s mother, Anne Miller, who wondered why Johns Hopkins did not have more physicians like the late Philip Tumulty, her internist. Tumulty, who helped found the Division of General Internal Medicine in 1977, was known for his caring, thoughtful interactions with patients. 

The first step, says Hellmann, was creating a measurable definition of clinical excellence. The process was led by Johns Hopkins Bayview internists Scott Wright and Steven Kravet, president of Johns Hopkins Community Physicians, and geriatricians Colleen Christmas, director of the Johns Hopkins Bayview Internal Medicine Residency Program and the new primary care track at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and S. Chris Durso, director of the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology. The four took nearly three years to develop a standard, taking into account professionalism, communication skills, diagnostic prowess, depth of knowledge, ability to negotiate the health care system, “a passion for patient care” and service as a role model to medical trainees. Each applicant must have four nominations.

Just 32 people have been inducted into the academy so far. The first Miller-Coulson class was inducted in 2009, and until this year, nominations were limited to Johns Hopkins Bayview physicians. The 2014 group was culled solely from The Johns Hopkins Hospital, says Wright, the program’s director. Next year, he expects nominations to come from both campuses, and he envisions the academy growing to include physicians from Johns Hopkins Medicine affiliate hospitals.

Academy members write papers and give talks about clinical excellence. They also serve as role models for medical students who can sign up for weeklong rotations within the academy “to see and learn the habits of a clinically excellent physician,” says Hellmann. 


For the complete list of academy members, visit

Articles in this Issue

Director's Column

Intensive Care Insights

Pulmonology Research

Recognizing Clinical Excellence