Drs. Ciara Barclay-Buchanan, Sara Damewood, and Mary Westergaard Receive UW Health Physician Excellence Awards

Three BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine faculty were among those honored at this year’s UW Health Physician Excellence Awards ceremony, held May 3, 2023, in Madison. The peer-nominated awards recognize physicians who demonstrate exceptional performance in clinical practice, education, leadership or regional services and a commitment to the institution’s mission, vision and values.

Ciara Barclay-Buchanan, MDCiara Barclay-Buchanan, MD
Clinical Leadership Excellence Award

Dr. Barclay-Buchanan is an Associate Professor (CHS) and Vice Chair of Clinical Operations. The Excellence Award in Leadership honors outstanding clinicians who demonstrate exceptional leadership and contributions to remarkable patient care outside of their home department, as well as at an enterprise-wide level.

Dr. Barclay-Buchanan joined the Department of Emergency Medicine in 2015, and quickly grew into leadership roles with UW Health and Madison VA Hospital emergency departments. As Vice Chair of Clinical Operations, Dr. Barclay-Buchanan is responsible for overseeing three emergency departments that care for 100,000 patients annually, and supporting the incredibly rapid growth in patient volume over the past few years.

“Such responsibility requires meticulous oversight of strategic planning, workforce staffing, interdisciplinary team building, workflow development, process refinement, equipment management, and quality improvement,” says Aimee Becker, MD, MBA, chief clinical officer at UW Health. “Dr. Barclay-Buchanan does it with poise, determination and a style of leadership built on empowering others.”

Dr. Barclay-Buchanan has held leadership roles in all aspects of residency and clinical operations across the health system. Notably, she has successfully used these roles to transform clinical care, ensuring care teams can deliver the best care possible to patients, while supporting the health and safety of providers and staff.

Recognizing her tremendous contributions to emergency clinical care at the University of Wisconsin (UW), Dr. Barclay-Buchanan also recently received 2022 Ripple Award for Excellence in Leadership and Service from the BerbeeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine.

Sara Damewood, MDSara Damewood, MD
Clinical Practice Excellence Award

Dr. Damewood is an Associate Professor (CHS) and inaugural Director for the Division of Emergency Ultrasound, as well as a national leader in using point-of-care ultrasound to improve the quality and safety of clinical care. The Excellence Award in Clinical Practice recognizes faculty demonstrating sustained service to the clinical excellence of UW Health programs and who are dedicated to providing exceptional patient and family centered care with a commitment to quality and patient safety.

Dr. Damewood joined the Department of Emergency Medicine in 2012. Prior to her arrival at UW Health, ultrasound was not completed by anyone other than radiologists. Dr. Damewood developed best practices of care using point-of-care ultrasound from the ground up for the emergency department – managing every detail from procuring ultrasound machines to establishing hospital credentialing criteria.

Today, ultrasound used at bedside by experienced and well-trained clinicians has become an invaluable tool to assist in immediate patient care decisions in many clinical areas including the ICU, PICU, hospital medicine, pediatrics and family medicine and is under development for the NICU.

“[Dr. Damewood] single-handedly brought this care innovation into practice in our emergency departments and has had an enormous ripple effect on patient care system-wide,” notes Dr. Becker.

Dr. Damewood has also received national accolades for the robust educational program she created that utilizes simulation models to train a broad range of faculty and other learners in point-of-care ultrasound. She also launched and serves as Fellowship Director for the department’s Advanced Emergency Ultrasound Fellowship Program, making the UW one of a select group of elite programs nationwide to offer this specialized training.

Mary Westergaard, MDMary Westergaard, MD
Clinical Educator Excellence Award

Dr. Westergaard is an Associate Professor (CHS) and inaugural Vice Chair of Education. The Excellence Award in Clinical Education honors outstanding educators who show remarkable skill in teaching the next generation of physicians, interdisciplinary team members, patients and families.

Dr. Westergaard joined the Department of Emergency Medicine in 2011 as Assistant Director and later Director of Medical Student Education, before heading up the department’s graduate medical education as Residency Program Director. Dr. Westergaard is also Founder and Inaugural Chair of the local chapter of the AAMC’s Group on Women in Medicine and Science at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.

“She has been a unique force in advancing medical simulation, wellness, women in medicine, and [diversity, equity, and inclusion] efforts at UW Health, all while serving as an amazing mentor to many and role model to all,” says Alan Kaplan, MD, chief executive officer, UW Health.

David Tillman, MD, assistant professor and director of medical education, BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine, added his reflection on working with Dr. Westergaard on educational initiatives for several years, both in emergency medicine and for all medical students at UW. “To appreciate the thread that unites Dr. Westergaard’s clinical approach with her approach to teaching is to appreciate how dedicated she is to humanism.”

This year marks the 13th annual Physician Excellence Awards at UW Health.