In 2012, philanthropist Rina Spence, a member of the Women’s Health Leadership Council at BWH, wanted to do something to recognize BWH primary care physicians, particularly those seeking to advance women’s health.
An international health care consultant and former president and CEO of Emerson Hospital, Spence established the Rina Spence Award at BWH to do just that. The inaugural award went to primary care physician Carolyn Kreinsen, MD, MSc, for her work in supporting trauma victims.
This year, under Spence’s guidance, the award has been refocused to address the issue of burnout in primary care, specifically, among female primary care physicians. In place of support for a project, the award now offers a month-long sabbatical during which the recipient can engage in any non-academic, restorative activity of her choosing, such as travel, music lessons or pursuit of a new hobby.
“We are so grateful to Ms. Spence for her generosity and for focusing on the issue of burnout among female physicians,” said Joseph Frolkis, MD, PhD, vice chair, BWH Primary Care.
Christina Iacobo, MD, who has practiced at the Brigham and Women’s Physician Group (BPG) for 20 years, is this year’s recipient. A mother of two elementary school-aged daughters and a Girl Scout troop leader, Iacobo’s patients call her a “gifted, caring physician.”
“When I started at BPG 20 years ago, I had intended to stay for a year and then pursue my pulmonary fellowship,” said Iacobo. “I had no idea I was going to love primary care more than working in ICUs and treating pulmonary diseases. Since that time, I’ve had the opportunity to care for many wonderful patients, as well as teach medical students and residents.”
Iacobo is well-known at BPG for the time she spends answering patient phone calls and emails; no patient question or concern is too small for her attention. She has created a monthly educational lecture series for the practice’s nurses about relevant medical issues. She has also taken on the responsibility of being a team leader at the practice, dedicated to patient-centered care.
“I commend Dr. Iacobo, as she is such a deserving recipient,” said Frolkis.
BPG Medical Director Ann Pinto, MD, PhD, shared: “Dr. Iacobo’s leadership through example has been essential in setting the tone for our efforts to improve the quality of care at BPG. She exemplifies all the intellectual, professional and humanistic qualities desirable in a primary care physician. That she has managed this so well, for so many patients, over so many years is remarkable.”
Iacobo plans to use the sabbatical to spend more time with her daughters on the soccer field and with their Girl Scout troop, share more time with her husband and give him a break from dinner duty, and get back into her past hobby of painting.