Thanks to his positive experience as a fellow of the Wayne State University Office of the Provost’s 2021-2022 Academic Leadership Academy, School of Medicine Assistant Professor of Neurology Ayaz Khawaja, M.D., is providing a critical need for patients who have recovered from COVID-19 but developed a neurologic complication in the process.
The Office of the Provost selected Dr. Khawaja as an Academic Leadership Academy fellow for 2021-2022. He used the opportunity to create a COVID-19 neurology referral center that provides expert evidence-based evaluation and treatments for patients with neurological effects from COVID-19, and lead long-lasting collaborative efforts with other disciplines, hospitals and the community to provide a multi-faceted, comprehensive treatment approach for these patients.
Dr. Khawaja is a neuro-hospitalist and consultant at Harper University Hospital and the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, and neuro-hospitalist, consultant and neuro-intensivist at Detroit Receiving Hospital.
ALA is an intensive year-long leadership development experience. Each of the fellows led a team to implement a project to benefit the greater Wayne State University community.
“The main objectives prior to the start of the ALA fellowship were to expand our network to reach out to more patients, communicate better with our current patients and understand the impact of these complications on their lives, and better coordinate their care with other services and with limited resources available due to the general impact of COVID-19,” Dr. Khawaja said. “We have been successfully able to continue expanding our clinic's reach, and continue to provide value to our patients, leading to excellent retention rates and follow-ups. We also had better retention of our patients for longitudinal follow-ups given the value that was provided by the clinic in filling a critical unmet need of patients who have recovered from COVID-19 but developed neurologic complications.”
The ALA provided support in the form of learning modules on leadership, diversity and equity; conflict resolution; the opportunity to meet and speak with leading experts who provided insight into the modules and shared their own experiences; and one-on-one mentoring sessions.
“All of these sessions created a better insight into my professional persona, critically evaluating strengths and weakness, and being more aware of potential areas of improvement and implicit biases,” he said. “I benefited significantly from learning from the experience of the mentors and WSU faculty who were responsible for steering the academy. I feel better prepared to lead a team into any project and anticipate challenges that may occur.”
Dr. Khawaja joined the Department of Neurology in 2019. He completed his residency in Neurology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital, and then went on to complete a fellowship at the combined neurocritical care program at Massachusetts General Hospital/Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston in 2018. He served as a postdoctoral research scholar at Brigham and Women’s Hospital from 2018 to 2019 before joining the staff at WSU. He is board certified with the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (2016) and is board eligible with the United Council of Neurosciences for Neurocritical Care.