People — patients, medical students, residents and colleagues — are what a five-decade career in the UF College of Medicine has been about for neonatologist Donald Vern Eitzman, M.D., a distinguished service professor emeritus of pediatrics.
Since coming to UF in 1958, Eitzman has helped shaped the lives and careers of many young doctors and students. For his venerable service in education, he was honored with a lifetime achievement award by the COM Society of Teaching Scholars during the 11th annual Medical Education Banquet, held Feb. 22 at the Hilton UF Conference Center.
“It’s the people that you meet,” said Eitzman, who founded the COM neonatology division. “Sometimes they come back and tell you how much something you did meant to them.”
In Eitzman’s early days in the COM, he and former department chair Richard Smith, M.D., made up the full complement of the pediatrics department. Today the department has grown both in size and stature, thanks, in part, to many of Eitzman’s early efforts. He has won a host of awards for teaching and patient care, but one he holds very dear is the naming of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in his honor.
His teaching approach is to help his students and mentees educate themselves by tackling real problems. He engages students in small group discussions rather than simply telling them what to do.
“The goal is to create the drive for them to learn and to get involved in finding out everything they can about each clinical problem they come across,” he said.
Eitzman still teaches, though he is no longer involved in day-to-day patient care. And he still makes a service trip to Nicaragua each year with fourth-year medical students, as he has done for the last 15 years since helping to start the program.
Along with Eitzman, many other members of the COM family — both in Gainesville and in Jacksonville — were recognized during the Medical Education Banquet for their contribution in education. Joseph C. Fantone, M.D., senior associate dean for educational affairs, and Craig S. Kitchens, M.D., a professor of hematology/oncology, were honorary inductees into the Society of Teaching Scholars.
David B. Feller, M.D., a clinical associate professor in the department of community health and family medicine, and Kevin L. Ferguson, M.D., an associate professor of emergency and critical care medicine, were the 2011 Society of Teaching Scholars inductees.
Feller also was named as COM Clinical Science Teacher of the Year. Professor of pathology Anthony T. Yachnis, M.D., M.S., director of anatomic pathology and chief of neuropathology, was named Basic Science Teacher of the Year.
Twenty-eight faculty members were hailed as Outstanding Resident Teachers, and 79 were given the Exemplary Teacher Award.