Time out with T.O. - GME's invaluable asset

by Tom O'Connor, UNMC public relations (retired) | June 15, 2020

Image with caption: Vicki Hamm

Vicki Hamm

NOTE: Vicki Hamm celebrates her 45th anniversary today. This story will be a complete surprise to her. She has no idea that it is running in UNMC Today.

Vicki Hamm is one of the unsung heroes who makes UNMC thrive.

For 45 years, she has quietly and efficiently left her mark on the UNMC College of Medicine's Graduate Medical Education (GME) programs.

The Hamm file

  • Grew up in Cook, Neb., a town of about 300 people in the southeast corner of Nebraska.
  • Has two children, a daughter, Jamie, and a son, Tyler.
  • Has officiated many Class A high school volleyball matches in the metro area.
  • Played competitive volleyball for many years and was named an All-American in the over 35 age division in 1994.
  • Is very proud of her flower gardens and once was recognized for having the "Bellevue Garden of the Month."
  • Graduated from the Lincoln School of Commerce in Lincoln, Neb.
  • Manages all the internal reviews for the training programs as well as budget, orientation, International Medical Graduates sponsorship, National Resident Matching Program and Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education institutional and program reviews.
  • Started at UNMC in 1975 as a residency coordinator in the department of internal medicine. But shortly after she started, Robert Wigton, M.D., was named assistant dean for graduate medical education, and he asked Hamm to join him in that office.
  • Received Chancellor's Gold U Award in April 2008.
  • Authored "The Graduate Medical Education Committee Handbook" in 2008 -- a 167-page book/CD that describes the roles and responsibilities of the Graduate Medical Education Committee (GMEC) and provides insight on how to make the GMEC run smoothly and efficiently.
  • Inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.

As the designated institutional administrator, Hamm is the go-to person for the nearly 560 house officers (residents and fellows) in UNMC's 65 residency and fellowship programs.

For Chandra Are, M.D., associate dean for graduate medical education and the designated institutional official (DIO) for the College of Medicine, Hamm makes the job look much easier than it really is.

In Dr. Are's opinion, there's really nothing that Hamm can't do. She's seen and done it all. She advises house officers, program directors and program coordinators on a range of issues from, payroll and licensing, work hours and orientation.

"When you see a duck floating in the water, the surface looks still," Dr. Are said. "You can't tell how fast the duck is paddling under water. That's exactly how Vicki works. She does it so well and is so modest. She's an invaluable asset for GME on our campus."

Dr. Are's praise for Hamm is felt to be justified by many others as well. He estimates that Hamm probably does the work of two or three people, as she deals with the heavy work load in the GME Office.

"She's been through every possible change in GME. You come to her with a question or problem, and she usually has the solution in a minute. If not for her, it would take several days to look for an answer, which might involve some period of confusion, then followed by forming a committee or so on, and -- if we're lucky -- we might come up with a solution which is ambiguous at best.

"With Vicki she gets to the point and we have the solution quickly. It's a classic case of silent efficiency. She does her work quietly and in the background. It just happens."

Hamm's dedication to the job is amazing, Dr. Are said.

"It's one thing to have passion and commitment for a job for a few years. It's another thing to still have it for 45 years. She is always there for the house officers, program directors and program coordinators. Vicki lives and breathes GME. She's usually at her desk by 6:30 a.m. and raring to go."

Each summer, the GME staff has the monumental task of onboarding about 180 new resident physicians.

"Most units in the College of Medicine might bring in a handful of new faculty or staff members at a time," Dr. Are said. "Can you imagine what's involved in bringing in 180 new physicians at one time?" Hamm -- with the help of Rachel Nelsen and Stefani Coleman -- takes care of that every year with seamless efficiency.

With the COVID-19 pandemic this year, Dr. Are cites a vintage example of Hamm's value to GME. She volunteered to put together a summary of personal protective equipment (PPE), testing and training for all 560 house officers (when they were tested and what mask size they wear).

It required Hamm to pore through copious records over the course of two days - a Friday and a Saturday. Although it was the weekend, she did it, Dr. Are said, because she places the need of the common good above her own.

In 2008, Hamm literally wrote a book to assist others in how to deal with the complexities of GME and make their programs run smoothly. That same year she was awarded the Chancellor's Gold U Award for her outstanding performance. An updated version of the book can be found here.

Despite her many accomplishments, Hamm is never one to seek the limelight. She would likely have passed on this story being done. It was all Dr. Are's idea.

"I can't thank her enough for her monumental contributions to GME and more importantly to so many individual house officers over the years," said Dr. Are, noting that several of them are now leaders in medicine on the UNMC campus and elsewhere.

Hamm's strong and decency-laden Midwestern values make her a wonderful colleague and friend, he said.

"I couldn't be more grateful for this association."

To congratulate Vicki on her 45th anniversary, feel free to leave a comment below.


Fill out the following. We welcome respectful comments pertaining to the subject of the article. Comments are subject to approval by UNMC.

Name (Required)

Email (Required)

Thank you, your comment will appear below once it has been approved.

Kathy Austin
June 16, 2020 at 4:40 PM

So happy to see you recognized Vicky for all you have done for UNMC. You were so great for all the residents all those years!

Tracy Hanzek
June 16, 2020 at 11:07 AM

45 years!!! How is that possible? Congratulations Vicki! We are very lucky to have you!

Lisa Runco
June 16, 2020 at 10:47 AM

G.O.A.T if there ever was one!

Mary Bernhagen
June 16, 2020 at 7:43 AM

Vicki Hamm is not only a wonderful employee here at UNMC, she is a wonderful person. I am so proud and blessed that I have the opportunity to work with her. Congratulations, Vicki!

Mat Weekly
June 16, 2020 at 2:20 AM

I’ve been friends with Vicki for 32 of those years! She’s irreplaceable!

Jolene Gulizia
June 15, 2020 at 4:06 PM

Great article . . . congratulations Vicki!

Anne Lawlor
June 15, 2020 at 2:54 PM

Congratulations on this milestone Vicki! It has been great working with you over the years!

Karen Burbach
June 15, 2020 at 2:53 PM

Congrats on 45 years, Vicki! Beyond UNMC and the GME office, thousands of house officers have benefitted from your dedication, work ethic and expertise. Glad you're in the spotlight for all you do!

Mary Haven
June 15, 2020 at 2:47 PM

Vicki, it is great to see this tribute to you after 45 years at UNMC. Thanks for your amazing dedication to the GME program.

Lynne Roh
June 15, 2020 at 2:45 PM

Congratulations Vicki! Thank you for your kind and generous spirit and constant support of all the GME Coordinators. I am so grateful for all you do.

Sandy Williamson
June 15, 2020 at 2:29 PM

Congratulations on 45 years! There have been many emails sent between us over the years and you always have the answer! Your dedication and good work is commendable, and I’m proud to have you as a colleague.

Kaeil Samson
June 15, 2020 at 12:41 PM

Well said - congrats Vicki!

Laura Robinson
June 15, 2020 at 12:07 PM

Congratulations Vicki on such an impressive milestone! Thank you for all you do for the programs and those of us in the departments. You are, without a doubt, the expert in all things GME!

Sarah Matya
June 15, 2020 at 12:03 PM

Congratulations Vicki! I wouldn't be where I am today without your leadership and guidance. I truly appreciate you!

Andrea Zimmer
June 15, 2020 at 11:49 AM

Congratulations Vicki!!

Dan Teet
June 15, 2020 at 11:15 AM

Congratulations Vicki!

Jayme Nekuda
June 15, 2020 at 10:53 AM

Vicki, You touched a lot of lives and helped countless individuals. Congratulations of your many years of service to UNMC!

Angie Peppers
June 15, 2020 at 10:53 AM

Congratulations Vicki! Thank you for all you do - you are amazing!

June 15, 2020 at 10:45 AM

Congratulations Vicki!!! Well deserved tribute! You are great at your job and are always willing to help!

Carrie Drummond
June 15, 2020 at 10:13 AM

Congratulations Vicki! You've been a lifesaver to many of us!

Kellie Devney
June 15, 2020 at 10:09 AM

The very BEST! Congratulations on your anniversary! You are amazing and always there for us!! Can't imagine doing this job without you!!

Kris Hammond
June 15, 2020 at 9:26 AM

Vicki, thanks to you and your team for all you do to make "house officer season" go smoothly!

Toni Harris
June 15, 2020 at 9:26 AM

Congratulations Vicki! What a great tribute. Thank you for all that you do for all of us coordinators and being my "go to" for person!

Rick Blum
June 15, 2020 at 9:23 AM

Congrats to you Vicki! Well-written story which captures you and your career, which has been amazing. I've enjoyed working with you for the past 28 years, and look forward to the future as well. Bravo!

Tara Branecki
June 15, 2020 at 9:21 AM

Congratulations Vicki! Your amazing, I know Chad enjoys working with you.

Barbara Hoover-Schultz
June 15, 2020 at 9:08 AM

I worked with Vicki many times in the past and always knew I could count on her to answer my many questions. Wow 45 years! What an accomplishment and well deserved praise.

Debra Romberger
June 15, 2020 at 8:25 AM

Vicky is a jewel-- a true treasure for UNMC! Thank you for all you do!

Arianne Marcoux
June 15, 2020 at 8:25 AM

Vicki is always wonderful to work with! She's not only incredibly knowledgeable, but she's also equally approachable. Given how busy she is, I'm always amazed when she picks up my calls on the first ring. I don't know how she finds time for all of us, but she makes it look easy!

Amy Lamer
June 15, 2020 at 8:24 AM

Such a well-deserved tribute, Vicki and congratulations on 45 years! Thank you for all of your help over the years.

Courtney Frost
June 15, 2020 at 8:21 AM

Congrats on 45 years Vicki! It has been great working with you for the past 13. Enjoy your week.

Michael Wadman
June 15, 2020 at 8:05 AM

Congrats Vicki and thanks for all the years of service. You're the best!

Lynn Harris
June 15, 2020 at 7:54 AM

Congratulations on 45 years of service.

Carla Pospisal
June 15, 2020 at 7:42 AM

What a great tribute to Vicki. Whenever Vicki presented information to fellowship coordinators, I was always in awe of her knowledge. Well deserved T.O.

Renee Young
June 15, 2020 at 7:38 AM

Well deserved congrats and thank you for all you do!!!

Bill O'Neill
June 15, 2020 at 7:37 AM

Congratulations, Vicki! And thank you for your work on behalf of UNMC!

Emily McElroy
June 15, 2020 at 7:09 AM

Congratulations Vicki. It is always a pleasure to work with you whenever the library comes up.

Patricia Hageman
June 15, 2020 at 6:48 AM

Vicki - you are a shining star, always with a smile on your face. Congrats on 45 years! Pat Hageman

Tina Hovorka
June 15, 2020 at 6:02 AM

Congrat’s Vicki on your anniversary

Karen Gould
June 15, 2020 at 5:41 AM

Congratulations Vicki—what amazing dedication, service, and depth of experience!

Sue Pope
June 15, 2020 at 5:32 AM

Congratulations Vicki!! I remember when I met you way back when! We've had a long career at UNMC. It's been a delightful pleasure to work with you.