A legacy of humanism

Selected by his peers – in honor of a fellow surgical resident who was adored by all – Darrell L. Hunt, M.D., Ph.D., is the first recipient of the Hugh A. Walters, M.D., Humanitarian Award.

The award was created to honor the memory of Walters, a surgical resident who died unexpectedly in 2008. Presented on June 10 at the conclusion of a special grand rounds lecture on humanism, guest lecturer Dr. Robert T. Watson, executive associate dean for administrative affairs at Florida State University, who knew Walters throughout his medical training, said, “Hugh had wisdom, justice, courage and moderation. He lived the values that reflect true humanism. He is the role model for all of us.”

George A. Sarosi, M.D., associate director of UF’s general surgery residency program, announced Hunt as the winner, saying the award is for excellence and dedication to patient care and teamwork, and for humility, and that he could not think of anyone else who deserved it more. Hunt is a third-year surgical resident who recently received his Ph.D and plans to pursue a career in surgical oncology.

Serving as the first Hugh A. Walters, M.D., Distinguished Speaker, Watson discussed professionalism versus humanism, noting that he worries because many people believe they are the same.

“I think they are different, although intertwined,” said Watson, who said he thinks humanism is about making a better life for everyone, and leaving the world a better place. Iin medicine, it means compassionately caring for patients, families and health care staff.

Dr. Darrell Hunt with the parents of the late Dr. Hugh Walters, Curtis and Margaretta. Photo by Sarah Kiewel

Dr. Darrell Hunt with the parents of the late Dr. Hugh Walters, Curtis and Margaretta. Photo by Sarah Kiewel

Last summer, when Hunt was interviewed for a Florida Physician article about him earning his Ph.D. during his surgical residency training program, he reflected on why he chose medicine as a career and its role in helping humanity.

Hunt said he feels his purpose is to help people to maximize their potential and that this cannot be done in the setting of disease.

“If you know you have cancer, it’s going to interfere with what you are able to do,” he said. “So for me, fighting against disease is my way of helping others maximize their human potential.”

Upon accepting the award, Hunt said, “This is a tremendous honor named after an extraordinary man – I hope my actions and work will live up to this honor.”

Each year forward, through the Hugh A. Walters, M.D., Humanitarian Fund, the UF department of surgery will host a lecture and honor a current surgical resident with the humanitarian award. The fund supports humanitarian efforts and awareness in surgical education. If you are interested in supporting the Hugh A. Walters, M.D. Humanitarian Fund, call 265-0646 or click here.