The SPIRIT of DOM Staff Award

The SPIRIT of DOM Staff Award

Recognition Award for

Staff Professionalism, Inspiration, Responsibility, Integrity, and Teamwork (SPIRIT)

in the Department of Medicine (DOM)

As part of our commitment to recognize our highly dedicated staff members and increase the visibility of their work, we established the SPIRIT OF DOM (Staff Professionalism, Inspiration, Responsibility, Integrity, and Teamwork in the Department of Medicine) Award in 2017. This award aims to recognize our staff members who exemplify the UCSF PRIDE Values and make the DOM and UCSF a better place to work. Since the award's establishment, 21 staff have been recognized for their excellence and commitment to the department. For the June 2021 cycle, the award committee received 28 nominations across all DOM sites, representing a wide variety of staff roles. The following three individuals, appearing in alphabetical order, were selected to receive the award:


Crisna CastroCrisna Castro has been working for the Department of Medicine-San Francisco VA Health Services since 2016 as a Business Operations Analyst in Central Administration. Crisna’s duties encompass a huge variety of administrative tasks and complex projects, including taking on significant leadership with faculty searches and processes that have been critically linked to the success of VA recruitments. According to Dr. Ken McQuaid, MD, and Vice-Chair of the DOM at the VA, “There is nobody who embodies more SPIRIT than Crisna. The process for conducting academic searches has become much more rigorous over the past several years. Crisna has become the resident ‘content expert’ on academic searches, mastering all the requirements for conducting searches to assure that the high standards of the Dean’s office are met and that the search is truly inclusive and transparent. For each search, she has worked closely with the search chairs and division chiefs to understand the nature of the position to be filled and then patiently provided them education and guidance about the proper way to conduct that search. She participates actively in each phase of the search and interview process, providing expert guidance and examples of ‘best practices’ from her vast experience. She has impressed everyone with her fund of knowledge, responsiveness and follow-through, record keeping, engagement with applicants, and her professional demeanor.” Among many of Crisna’s essential contributions to the department and the VA community, is her service as the Dean’s Diversity Leader for the Health Equity Action Group in the School of Medicine’s Differences Matter Initiative. Known by all as incredibly capable, thoughtful, compassionate, kind, thorough, patient, and inclusive, Crisna was nominated by several department leaders at the VA. In each case, she was noted for her unfailing commitment to professionalism, excellence, and her passion for advancing health equity through diversity and inclusion.

Michael ChangMichael Chang came to the Department of Medicine over two years ago as the Operations Manager at St. Mary’s for the Division of Hospital Medicine, making critical contributions to expanding and strengthening this vital partnership. According to Michael’s nominations, he frequently goes above and beyond his work requirements to improve the experiences of faculty and patients. Over the past two years, these efforts have included dedicating dozens of hours to data collection through patient interviews and provider observations to support quality improvements and faculty initiatives. According to Dr. Avi Kanal, MD, Associate Professor, “Michael is a star – above and beyond the mountains of daily, administrative tasks, Michael is an active and enthusiastic member of the team who looks for areas to improve and collaborates across the division to make it happen. I work with Michael on several quality improvement efforts in the division, and to be honest, I would not think to create a new task force at St. Mary’s without his participation. He is a great example of the values that UCSF stands for, a tremendous asset to our team.” In addition to his excellence in his assigned work and his “above and beyond” contributions, Michael is also a highly engaged member of the DHM anti-racism task force, where he is always noted to speak his mind and stand firm in his ethical values. Another example of his commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion can be seen in his advocacy for patient interpreters while taking on the task of managing a quality improvement research initiative aimed at improving the transfer of patients from the Emergency Department at Parnassus to St. Mary’s Medical Center. Because of Michael’s efforts, many patients’ experiences could be included in the data analyses because language barriers had been addressed and eliminated. Michael is well-known as the face of the Division of Hospital Medicine and the DOM at St. Mary’s, wherefrom the very beginning, he spent many days walking around the hospital proactively introducing himself to the community, handing out his card, and making authentic and vital connections to further the relationships and impact of the DOM with other important community stakeholders.

Jennifer CohenJennifer Cohen has been working for UCSF since 2005 and for the Department of Medicine since 2007. Jennifer’s current role is as the Project Director for the UCSF-SFVA arm of a very large and complex decades-long, multisite research study led by Dr. Phyllis Tien, MD, SFVA Division on Infectious Diseases. Dr. Tien writes, “Over the past year, Jennifer has hired and trained three new staff members, prioritizing the hiring of a racially and ethnically diverse staff to reflect the diversity of our participants. In addition, because new enrollment into the study will include racially and ethnically diverse veterans with and at risk for HIV, Jennifer enlisted the help of a nurse practitioner (NP) who is a US veteran that identifies as an underrepresented minority to recruit and enroll veterans in our research. She has also supported hiring staff members looking for clinical research experiences as they transition to medical and nursing school. With several new staff members, Jennifer has stepped up efforts to ensure that staff feels supported, respected, appreciated, and recognized for their contributions.” Carol Thuman, NP, described Jennifer as a supervisor that: “wholeheartedly endorsed and supported our various staff development activities, whether they be visiting an urban farm, painting ceramic greenware, hiking Angel Island, or celebrating a coworker’s upcoming nuptials. These events, though technically unrelated to the mission of our HIV research, served to create a supportive and cohesive workplace. During the pandemic, she promoted a collaborative team environment through weekly zoom meetings to discuss not only data collection and protocol issues but also well-being.” Jennifer has also played a leading role beyond UCSF in facilitating the development of the study. She is also a vital member of the Sexual and Gender Minority Taskforce, facilitating a small group of experts to develop accurate and sensitive questions regarding sexual and gender identity. Susan Holman from the SUNY Downstate research site and co-Chair of the Project Directors Working Group described Jennifer as being “a tremendous asset, not only at the UCSF site but for the overall project. On numerous occasions, she has volunteered, on behalf of all 13 study sites, for projects to advance study-wide goals of the research.” Finally, Dr. Tien writes: “Jennifer is by far the most impressive team member with whom I have ever had the opportunity to work, and this [sentiment] is shared by many in the DOM, UCSF, and beyond.”