Anesthesia Resident Awarded Prestigious Research Grant

Megan Rolfzen, MD, a resident in the UNMC Department of Anesthesiology, achieved a significant milestone in her career by obtaining her first research grant and being honored with a prestigious award: the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists In-Training Grant and the Lisa Wise-Faberowski Resident Prize for Research Excellence from the Association of University Anesthesiologists, respectively.

The SCA In-Training Grant, totaling $15,000, is awarded to residents with a strong interest in the confluence of research and cardiac anesthesia and cardiac anesthesia fellows in eligible training programs.

Dr. Rolfzen’s study focuses on the social vulnerabilities that affect postoperative mortality in cardiothoracic surgery patients, such as mental illness and rurality. Her research goal is to inform interventions tailored to address the holistic needs of patients undergoing cardiac procedures.

“The project investigates outcomes in cardiothoracic surgical patients, taking into consideration how mental health and other disparities affect surgical outcomes in that subgroup,” Dr. Rolfzen said.

Dr. Rolfzen was unable to attend the SCA meeting in Toronto in April where the grant was announced, but she will present her ensuing work at the next SCA annual meeting in Montreal.

In addition to the SCA grant, Dr. Rolfzen received the Lisa Wise-Faberowski Resident Prize for Research Excellence. The award, honoring a distinguished pediatric cardiac anesthesiologist, was presented at the Association of University Anesthesiologists annual meeting in March, where Dr. Rolfzen presented her research project, “Association between mental health diagnoses and mortality in surgical patients – A retrospective cohort study.”

Dr. Rolfzen said she is excited to receive her first grant and is appreciative of the mentorship and academic support at UNMC. She gives specific recognition to Jerrod Anzalone, Makayla Schissel, Mike Mathis, and Karsten Bartels, MD, PhD, without whom these accomplishments would not have come to fruition. She will begin fellowship training in adult cardiac anesthesiology with the department in July.