Judi Marraccini, Friend, Mentor and Leader in the Field of GTA!

Blog by Isle Polonko:  Today, May 1, is the birthday of an extraordinary woman.  Judi Marraccini.  Judi is my friend, my personal mentor and a person who has made significant contributions to the field I am so passionate about, the field of GTA/MUTA.  I have known Judi for decades. She was my boss at Rutgers, (then UMDNJ), my mentor and the person who I most admired in this field of education.  We are friends, colleagues, founders of chapters of organizations and she continues to be the person I most admire in this extraordinary field that literally changes lives through positively impacting patient care.  Judi began her work in the mid 80’s.  She was the the second GTA hired to work at the Department of Ob/Gyn and Women’s Health at New Jersey Medical School under the direction of the program’s founder, Dr. Gerson Weiss.  She was promoted to GTA program director in 1989 and hired me as a GTA to fill the vacancy. Judi proved to be a wonderful and creative leader in this field of education. She was a pioneer of the OSCE in New Jersey and was one of the first coordinators in the entire country to utilize GTAs to proctor and evaluate breast and pelvic exam stations.  (This remains a distinction of her career as many universities still do not utilize GTAs to evaluate student competency.) She founded the MUTA program at New Jersey Medical School and brought the program into the digital age by digitizing all the program materials and creating CD-Roms for learners to be able to review key elements about their labs.   She was an active member of the Association of Standardized Patient Educators and sat on several committees including ASPE’s most active and successful Special Interest Group, the GTA/MUTA SIG. She chaired the Audio-visual subcommittee and created a presentation with other colleagues for use by ASPE members on the Female Pelvic Exam utilizing vulva puppets.  She presented at conferences, won awards for her work in the field and moved the patient empowerment elements of GTA programming into other fields such as SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) trainings.  GTA isn’t Judi’s only passion though.  She has been active in so many areas that positively impact women’s health such as education on issues of domestic violence, sexual assault, HIV/AIDS, and lesbian health care issues to name a few. Ms. Marraccini has held leadership positions in the National Organization for Women as well as a number of other organizations throughout New Jersey and nationally.  Her contributions to improving the lives of women are awe inspiring and her contributions to the field of GTA are unsurpassed. This field owes Ms. Marraccini a debt of gratitude.  It was her work that opened the door for others that came after to continue to expand the reaches of this work into other fields so that all patients are empowered and treated respectively.  And as my friend and mentor, I want her to know what an honor it has been to know her, to work with her (and for her) and to experience her boundless energy and unyielding dedication.   It has been an absolute privilege to call Judi Marraccini my friend.  Thank you Judi, and a very happy birthday.  May today bring one beautiful surprise after another.  You deserve it.