“What’s the bigger picture here?” Hospitalist Christopher Moreland, MD, MPH, FACP, drops his question neatly into the pause in resident Adrienne Victor, MD’s presentation of patient status and lab results.
We’re on the bustling 9th floor of University Hospital at the University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHSCSA) in San Antonio during fast-paced morning rounds. As attending physician, Dr. Moreland is focusing intently on Dr. Victor’s face, simultaneously monitoring the American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation of Todd Agan, CI/CT, BEI Master Interpreter. Immediately after his question to Dr. Victor, the discussion—conducted in both ASL and spoken English—shifts to the patient’s psychosocial issues and whether a palliative care consult would be advisable.
It’s clear that for Dr. Moreland, the work, not his lack of hearing, is the main point here. A hospitalist with the UTHSCSA team since 2010, Dr. Moreland quickly established himself not only as a valuable HM team member and educator, but also as a leader in other domains. For example, in addition to his academic appointment as assistant clinical professor of medicine, he previously was co-director of the medicine consult and co-management service at University Hospital and now serves as UTHSCSA’s associate program director for the internal medicine residency program.
Dr. Moreland’s question this morning is typical of his teaching, says Bret Simon, PhD, an educational development specialist and assistant professor with the division of hospital medicine at UTHSCSA.
“I grew up working with interpreters, so I’m used to that process. “It forces you to become less inhibited about what you’re doing.”
–Christopher Moreland, MD, MPH, FACP
“He’s very good at using questions to teach, promoting reflection rather than simply telling the student what to do,” Dr. Simon explains.
Chris Moreland’s parents discovered their son was deaf at age two, by which time he had acquired very few spoken words. After multiple visits to healthcare professionals, a physician finally identified his deafness. The family then embarked on a bimodal approach to his education, using both signed and spoken English. He learned ASL in college. As a result, he communicates through a variety of channels: ASL with interpreters Agan and Keri Richardson, speech reading, and spoken English. When examining patients, he uses an electronic stethoscope that interfaces with his cochlear implant.
Medicine was not Dr. Moreland’s first academic choice.
“I went into college thinking I wanted to do computer science,” he says, speaking of his undergraduate studies at the University of Texas in Austin. When he realized computers were not for him, he switched his major to theater arts, continuing an interest he had had in high school. After that, research seemed appealing, and he became a research assistant in a lab in the Department of Anthropology. Finally, after shadowing a number of physicians, his interest in medical science was stimulated.
“Medicine,” he says, “became a nice culmination of everything I was interested in doing.” From computer science, he learned to appreciate an understanding of algorithms; from theater arts came the ability to understand where people are coming from; and from his link with research in linguistics and anthropology came the contribution of problem solving and methodology.