Stroke Doctor Follows Special Inspiration
Ann Helms, MD, Medical College of Wisconsin neurologist is a rare bird in the world of medicine. As the Daniel M. Soref Clinical Fellow in Neurosciences, she is one of only a small number of doctors nationwide receiving advanced training in the treatment of stroke.
Dr. Helms joined Froedtert & Medical College last July after completing her neurology residency at University of Maryland Hospital. Froedtert was a natural choice for her fellowship year. Even among teaching hospitals, Helms explains, it is uncommon to have even one stroke specialist on staff. Froedtert & Medical College has six. A big part of Dr. Helms’ work so far has been helping set up the hospital’s new neurovascular service. Launched in January, the new service provides stroke patients with the specialty treatment they need much more quickly. Helms is also helping Froedtert & Medical College develop a multidisciplinary clinic geared to the special needs of stroke patients.
Putting it in plain English
Dr. Helms is passionate about improving stroke care. She says medicines introduced in the ’90s mean doctors can now do much more for people suffering strokes—if they receive treatment within the first three hours. The key, she insists, is education of patients, doctors and community leaders.
“Education is huge for me,” says Helms. There is one obstacle, though: “Physicians spend four years learning how to ‘speak doctor’ and forget to speak in plain English.” Helms makes a point of clearly explaining stroke to her patients. Her inspiration is her father, a surgeon who always took the time to explain his work to Helms and her siblings. He did such a good job that three out of the four kids eventually entered the medical field. Helms’ focus on education is geared toward prevention, which she believes is much more important than treatment. “Optimally,” she says, “I'd like to put myself out of business.”
The Daniel M. Soref Clinical Fellowship is an endowment funded through the Friends of Froedtert Hospital Foundation. (See page 11 for more on clinical fellowships.)