Founders’ Day Welcomes Entering Class
Good teachers are the foundation of any educational institution, so it seemed fitting that the Feinberg School of Medicine’s Founders’ Day convocation on August 26 officially opened the academic year by honoring top teachers from the past year and, of course, welcoming the entering Class of 2009. This year’s 171 first-year students have the distinction of being designated the sesquicentennial class that will graduate during the medical school’s 150th anniversary year.
Northwestern recognized seven individuals whose excellence as medical educators won them 2004â05 teaching awards. From mentoring in small group sessions and developing new educational programs to lecturing to large auditoriums filled with students, these outstanding teachers have distinguished themselves to students and peers alike, according to Raymond H. Curry, MD, GME ’85, executive associate dean for education, who presented the awards.
Alexander Y. Lin, MD, assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology; Paula H. Stern, PhD, professor of molecular pharmacology and biological chemistry; and Sharon M. Unti, MD ’82, assistant professor of pediatrics, received the Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence.This honor recognizes faculty achievement in medical student education, and department chairs submit nominations to Dean Lewis Landsberg (pictured at left) for his consideration.
Student votes determined the recipients of the George H. Joost Outstanding Teacher Awards. First-year students selected Randolph E. Perkins, PhD, assistant professor of physical therapy and human movement sciences, for excellence in basic science instruction, and Andrea Coath Baumgartner, MD, assistant professor of clinical medicine, for her leadership and guidance in the Patient, Physician & Society course. Second-year students chose in the same categories, respectively, Thomas C. Corbridge, MD, associate professor of medicine, and Gregory E. Brisson, MD, GME ’94, assistant professor of clinical medicine. Dr. Brisson also received the 2005 American Medical Women’s Association/Upjohn Gender Equity Award.
M. Christine Stock, MD ’81, GME ’84 (pictured below), delivered the Founders’ Day address titled “Whatsoever Things are True” (the English translation of the University’s official motto, Quaecumque Sunt Vera, which was adopted in 1890). “As an alumna, one of my favorite symbols that represent Northwestern’s values is the crest of the University,” said Dr. Stock, James E. Eckenhoff Professor and chair of anesthesiology. “These Latin words are derived from the New Testament epistle of Paul to the Philippians when he admonished his Christian followers to think on what things are true. How does this admonition to think on things of truth apply to those who are granted the opportunity and privilege to practice medicine?”
Physicians today exercise much judgment based on sound scientific evidence, according to Dr. Stock. Yet given the pace of new evidence and rate at which medical knowledge expands, the truth of evidence is relatively short lived with each new discovery. What was an effective treatment method one year may not prove to be “true” or effective in three years. Therein lies the challenge of seeking absolute truth in medical practice and the necessity for lifelong learning for physicians of all ages.
“We must approach new ideas with open minds and clear heads,” concluded Dr. Stock. “Scientific evidence must guide our thinking but not to the exclusion of new or different thought.”
The Founders’ Day Convocation concluded with Arjun Venkatesh, president of the Medical School Student Senate, leading the entering class in reciting Northwestern’s oath of professional conduct. With assistance from second-year students, the Class of 2009 donned their bright white coats with a new and unique addition: a special 150th anniversary year patch to herald the medical school’s upcoming sesquicentennial.