An inspiration since ‘day one’

This was the third time that Patricia Abbitt, M.D., a professor in the department of radiology, was selected by the college’s graduating class for the Hippocratic Award.

Patricia Abbitt, M.D., received the 2012 Hippocratic Award Friday, May 4. Bobby Casey, academic chair for the COM graduating class presented Abbitt with the award in a ceremony held at Wilmot Gardens. Photo by Jesse Jones.

But she still got choked up.

“Come up with ideas, figure out things to do. They might say no to you, but you just keep pushing through and see if you can’t get it done,” she told her students, as she accepted the award at a May 4 ceremony in Wilmot Gardens.

The award, established by the 1969 graduating class, is one of the highest honors the graduating class bestows on one of its teachers each year. It is given to the teacher and mentor students would most like to emulate.

“It is probably the most coveted award in the medical school,” said Michael L. Good, M.D., dean of the UF College of Medicine.

The Hippocratic award winners are “some of the people who have played a huge role in your medical education. People who have become beloved and very respected among you,” said Patrick Duff, M.D., associate dean for student affairs.

Abbitt, who also won the award in 2004 and 2009, became the fifth recipient of the Hippocratic Scholars Award, which includes UF COM faculty members who have received the Hippocratic Award three or more times.

Bobby Casey, academic chair the class of 2012, said Abbitt will be remembered for teaching students to read X-rays in her soft Southern drawl, her Socratic questioning of students and her untiring work helping the local homeless.

Perhaps the more important lesson Abbitt taught them was “even with a busy academic and clinical practice, there will always be time to lift up your fellow human being,” Casey said.

UF COM senior Sarah Yong said Abbitt is an interesting teacher who has a way of asking the right questions and making information relevant.

“When you talk to 135 students, it’s hard to hold everyone’s attention,” said Yong. “But she can. She just comes across as so smart, but so humble.”

In fact, Abbitt’s overall outlook on medicine and her devotion to her patients are why graduating student Leah Portnow chose to specialize in radiology herself.

“I think Dr. Abbitt has been an inspiration from day one,” she said.  “She is truly dedicated to her students.”

Abbitt motivated students to think, learn and always challenge themselves.

“I personally can’t thank her enough,” Portnow said. “She is just a wonderful person.”