By Tyler Francischine | Photos by Mindy C. Miller and Jesse S. Jones
As the old adage goes, age is nothing but a number.
Though many of the nation’s medical schools have been open longer, the list of accomplishments of the faculty, staff and students at the University of Florida College of Medicine is varied and illustrious. From the invention of Gatorade to the recent separation of conjoined twin girls connected at the heart and liver, the last 60 years at the UF College of Medicine have been marked by innovation and collaboration.
To celebrate, the College of Medicine hosted two days of events: a national deans’ panel tackled issues facing the academic medicine community. An anniversary gala treated more than 250 friends to a night of food, music and entertainment. An appreciation barbecue in conjunction with the 60th anniversary of the College of Nursing fed more than 850 who call the UF Health Science Center home.
The national deans’ panel, moderated by Michael L. Good, M.D., dean of the UF College of Medicine, featured dialogue from three medical school deans from Kentucky, Wisconsin and Maryland. More than 175 students, faculty and staff listened to discussion on topics like student wellness, cultivating creativity in curriculum, and diversity and non-traditional medical students. A live stream of the event generated viewers from across the country.
Dr. Good said the opportunities and challenges facing the UF College of Medicine are not unique to Gainesville.
“As we enter the national conversation about how we can best prepare physicians for the health care environment, it’s helpful to hear the perspectives of three deans from longstanding and prominent institutions,” he said.
Dean of the University of Louisville School of Medicine Toni Ganzel, M.D., M.B.A., outlined three goals for the future of academic medicine.
“We need to reaffirm the joy and privilege of educating the next generation of physicians. We need to acknowledge the challenges we face in a rapidly evolving health care system in terms of research, education and community partnerships,” she said. “And we need to chart a path that addresses the needs of both the learners and the health care systems.”
“We need to reaffirm the joy and privilege of educating the next generation of physicians.” — Toni Ganzel, M.D., M.B.A.
Dean of the School of Medicine and executive vice president of the Medical College of Wisconsin Joseph Kerschner, M.D., said a culture of wellness and positive relationships among both students and faculty will increase output.
“To create a culture of wellness and those practices we want, we have to practice it within ourselves first,” he said. “Focusing on our treatment toward each other comes down to mentorship and professionalism. We have a real responsibility to serve as mentors whenever possible.”
Dean of the School of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., said the system of academic medicine as a whole is not broken, but there are areas to address.
“Diversity doesn’t happen spontaneously. One has to make it a priority,” he said. “Diversity is human nature. It’s reflected in genetics. We have to work to maintain that diversity, which is the fabric of human nature.”
Later that evening, more than 250 of the UF College of Medicine’s faculty, staff, alumni, donors and students attended a gala held in the George T. Harrell, M.D., Medical Education Building. The night kicked off with a flash mob performance from the class of 2019, singing and dancing to The Black Eyed Peas’ anthem “I Gotta Feeling.”
Dr. Good presided over the evening. He called his post as the ninth dean of the College of Medicine a unique privilege and a humbling responsibility.
“I’ve learned so much about the rich history of our college,” he said. “There are so many individuals and teams responsible for this 60-year journey of innovation and collaboration.”
University of Florida President Dr. W. Kent Fuchs said, “This college will indeed lead us into the future.”
The evening’s speakers included four descendants of founding and early college faculty turned current faculty members, Drs. Heather and Grant Harrell, Dr. Alice Rhoton-Vlasak and Dr. Kayser Enneking. Entertainment continued with a filmed conversation among Dr. Good and the college’s former deans, as well as a series of faux-newscasts, which wove together facts and humor to illustrate the college’s history and impact. A former patient of UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital and current second-year UF medical student, Hanna Peterson, performed a song and expressed her thanks to William Slayton, M.D., and those responsible for fighting her battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma when she was 12.
“This college will indeed lead us into the future.” — President Fuchs
Chief executive officer of University of Florida Health Shands Ed Jimenez said, “When we can provide hope where hope wasn’t, we have served one of our purposes.”
Events wrapped up the following afternoon with a barbecue in the Health Professions/Nursing/Pharmacy complex courtyard hosted by the UF College of Medicine and UF College of Nursing in honor of the colleges’ 60 years. Gators mascot Alberta was on hand to motivate students and staff into receiving their flu shots. Food for 850 was provided by Hill’s BBQ & Catering.