UA Anesthesiology Professor Dr. Craig M. Palmer Awarded Fulbright Scholarship to Train, Mentor Anesthesiologists in Serbia

Dr. Craig M. Palmer

Craig M. Palmer, MD, a professor of anesthesiology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, has been chosen for a Fulbright award to travel to Serbia by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

Also a Banner – University Medical Group physician, Dr. Palmer’s interest in Serbia began last year when he met two anesthesiologists from the East European country at a Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology meeting in Toronto. One practices in Serbia, and the other, Ivan Velickovic, MD, practices in the United States but returns to Serbia frequently.

“This Fulbright scholarship reflects the outstanding reputation of our anesthesiology department and its training program, not only in this state and around the nation, but also internationally. I’m honored and humbled to receive this award, and eagerly look forward to working with the anesthesiologists in Novi Sad, Serbia,” he said. “As Dr. Velickovic told me in an e-mail, ‘You going there isn’t about changing things in one hospital; it’s about changing anesthesia education and practice in the whole region.’”

Dr. Palmer is the second Fulbright scholarship winner announced this spring among physicians who practice at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and South and teach at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.

In March, Zain Khalpey, MD, PhD, FETCS, surgical co-director of Heart Transplant and director of the Mechanical Circulatory Support and Mitral Valve Program at Banner – UMC Tucson, and a UA College of Medicine – Tucson associate professor of surgery, also was named a Fulbright scholar. He will spend three months in Gdansk, Poland, continuing his collaborative work with Ryszard T. Smolenski, MD, PhD, on translational adult stem cell therapy to repair damaged hearts.

Dr. Palmer will spend several months at the Clinical Center of Vojvodina in Novi Sad. The center has more than 1,300 in-patient beds and provides tertiary-level care for most of northern Serbia. In obstetric care, the center serves about 6,500 women per year, and is the primary obstetric referral center for the region.

Dr. Palmer will provide training through lectures and on-site mentoring for practicing anesthesiologists and trainees in use of regional anesthesia in obstetrics, for both Cesarean delivery and labor analgesia; help establish and train a core group of dedicated faculty members who will be able to sustain these changes and mentor other future anesthesiologists; implement a patient database to accurately track progress; and develop a clinical research service on obstetric anesthesia care.

Dr. Palmer noted Serbian obstetric anesthesia practice differs greatly from that of the United States.

“They use very little regional anesthesia for labor (unlike the United States, where over half of all laboring women receive regional anesthesia.) and almost all their C-sections undergo general anesthesia, unlike the U.S., again, where most women have a regional anesthetic,” he said.

“The biggest impediment to increasing regional anesthetic rates was a lack of an experienced enthusiastic mentor to encourage not only trainees, but practicing anesthesiologists. They were very excited that I might be able to join them as a visiting professor, so we worked together to get approvals. They actually obtained letters of support for my visit from the chair of obstetrics, hospital director and regional health minister of Vojvodina—the region north of Belgrade.”

Dr. Palmer has been a member of the UA College of Medicine faculty since 1988, serving previously as departmental vice chair for clinical affairs (2009-2011), UA Department of Anesthesiology director (2004-11), and obstetrics anesthesia director (1990-2005). In addition to dozens of original publications and book chapters focused on obstetric anesthesia, he is the lead author of two textbooks on the subject, Handbook of Obstetric Anesthesia (Bios Scientific Publishing, 2000) and Obstetric Anesthesia (Oxford University Press, 2012).

He served for more than five years as chair of the American Society of Anesthesiologists Committee on Obstetric Anesthesia and the society's liaison to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. A board member of the Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology (SOAP) for more than 10 years, he twice hosted its annual meeting. He has been an invited speaker and visiting professor across the United States, as well as Europe, Australia and South America.

About the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board:

The FFSB is the presidentially appointed 12-member board responsible for supervising the Fulbright Program worldwide and approving selection of all Fulbright recipients. The Fulbright Program aims to increase mutual understanding among the people of the United States and of other countries, and it is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Fulbright alumni have become heads of state, judges, ambassadors, cabinet ministers, CEOs and university presidents, as well as leading journalists, artists, scientists and teachers. They have been awarded 53 Nobel Prizes. Since its start in 1946, more than 360,000 Fulbright scholarships have been awarded.

About the UA Department of Anesthesiology

The Department of Anesthesiology provides a full range of clinical service and education, including a residency program and fellowships. Clinical experience covers ambulatory, cardiothoracic, neurosurgical, obstetric, pediatric, trauma, transplantation and vascular surgery, as well as acute and chronic pain and critical care. As part of the UA College of Medicine – Tucson, its clinical faculty, residents, fellows and nurse anesthetists cover operating rooms at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and South campuses, the Banner – University Medical Group Alvernon Surgery Center, and the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System. The UA College of Medicine – Tucson, along with the UA Colleges of Medicine – Phoenix, the UA College of Pharmacy, the UA College of Nursing and the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health comprise the Arizona Health Sciences Center at the University of Arizona.

About Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and South

Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and Banner – University Medical Center South are part of Banner University Medicine, a premier academic medical network. These institutions are academic medical centers for the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson. Included on the two campuses are the only Level 1 Trauma Center in Southern Arizona, Banner Children’s – Diamond Children's Medical Center and many clinics. Along with Banner – University Medicine, these hospitals and associated clinics are part of Arizona-based Banner Health, one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the nation. Banner Health operates 28 acute-care hospitals in seven states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming. For more information, please visit or

To make an appointment at either Banner – University Medical Center Tucson or South campus, please call (520) 694-8888. Learn more at

Release Date: 
05/20/2015 - 1:27pm
Original Story: 
Teaser Image: