Darren Hoffmann

Assistant Professor, The University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine

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I’ve come to appreciate – My yard and garden, where I can get a little sun, make the world more beautiful, and turn off work. Also, weekly date nights! Every Wednesday my husband and I get in the car and drive somewhere different, find an interesting place to park, and have dinner together. It’s kind of lame eating takeout in the car, but it’s a way to show him that I care and it’s time just for us that’s not about work, house projects, etc.

My challenges & solutions – The constantly changing rules and limitations make it really difficult to plan thoroughly. I make a few half-baked plans and then wait to see which is going to be possible before working out all the details. Fortunately, I was already familiar with most of the technologies necessary for working at home. I’m just a lot better at using them now! POD Network has been a lifesaver; it’s a very active listserv of faculty/student developers who have a constant dialogue about problems and solutions.

My research & COVID–19 – My research is crawling forward in fits and starts. I’m trying to focus energy on writing papers, saving new data collection until I have more time and headspace. I had the opportunity to address COVID–19 in teaching Lymphoid histology, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. My learning curve would have been very steep in a time crunch. And I’m not sure I could have woven it into the overall story without bringing students down.

How I stay connected...

With AAA – The discussions on Anatomy Connected have triggered great conversations with people I’ve never worked with before.

With students – This semester I had about 100 students, I’ll have another 100 over the summer, and 180 in the fall. My interactions are mostly limited to email. I was surprised by how little folks wanted to use Zoom office hours, so I really don’t see them much. I have surveyed them quite a bit to get a pulse on what’s happening. Students seem very satisfied with approaches to reduce stress: encouraging collaboration, running exams open-book, honor code instead of lockdown browsers, etc.

With my research team – There are about 25 faculty in my department; I work closely with a half dozen of them. We’re collaborating asynchronously through shared documents and trying to push projects toward publication. Occasionally I schedule social Zoom calls to connect with people, but I’m sensitive to the fact that even a social Zoom call at the end of a day filled with Zoom calls doesn’t feel very good.

I’ve discovered – The documentary film Crip Camp blew my mind. Learning how a small summer camp in the 1970s was a wellspring of inspiration for a generation of disability rights advocates was amazing. Tons of archival footage of kids at camp and the same kids as adults affecting change in the world.

My guilty pleasure – I’ve been going through old photo albums, sending photos to old friends, and Zooming together to relive those moments.

I don’t need – Fast food!

I really miss – Listening to good stories on podcasts during my commute.

I’ve forgiven myself for – Not doing my best work for my students. I have high standards for my work, so it’s hard to get something done that doesn’t feel done.