After Robert Hollander, M.D., heard his name called, he walked to the lectern and peered out at the sea of umbrellas. Before diving into his words of gratitude, he reached into his pocket, pulled out a small black digital camera, and snapped a photo of the crowd.
Despite the rain, more than 40 fourth-year medical students from UF gathered at Wilmot Gardens May 5 for the annual Hippocratic Award Ceremony, where they honored Hollander, a faculty member known for not only his professionalism, humanism and teaching prowess but also his character and team spirit.
“He drew us into the ‘team green’ philosophy,” said class of 2015 academic chair Michael Tudeen of Hollander, the 2015 recipient of the Hippocratic Award. “He wasn’t afraid to connect with us beyond the classroom.”
Tudeen said Hollander frequently went “above and beyond” to impact students during their rotations at the Malcom Randall Veterans Affairs Medical Center, becoming a role model for not only how to be a great physician but also a great individual.
Hollander, an adjunct professor in the UF College of Medicine department of medicine and a pulmonary/critical care physician and clinical teacher at the VA hospital, also received the Hippocratic Award two years ago from the class of 2013 (each faculty member can receive the award up to three times).
Established by the UF College of Medicine class of 1969, the Hippocratic Award is presented annually by each graduating class to a faculty member who represents the ideal role model. Award recipients are recognized via a plaque that sits below a sapling that has grown from the cutting of a sycamore tree under which ancient Greek physician Hippocrates taught medicine on the island of Kos, according to legend.
Because the award is decided by UF College of Medicine students, “it’s become the most highly coveted, highly respected award among faculty,” said UF College of Medicine Dean Michael L. Good, M.D., during the ceremony.
He noted that in the 46 years the award has been given, 32 faculty members from nine of the college’s departments have been selected, and nine faculty members have received the award more than once.
When Hollander took to the lectern for his remarks, he seized the opportunity to leave the students with one last lesson, reminding them to always meet the needs of the patient and to carry with them the skills and humanistic qualities they have cultivated as they move into the next chapter of their careers.
“When what you call work becomes awesome… it’s really easy to see the day as a series of interconnected moments — not just carpe diem, but carpe secundum,” he said.
As the rain subsided, the crowd of students stood and gathered as a new nameplate was added to the plaque in Wilmot Gardens, marking the class of 2015’s choice.
Then Hollander once again held out his camera, snapping a photo of the students who had grown to see him as not just a teacher, but also as a friend and role model.
“When I tell you that you all have helped to inspire and motivate me,” Hollander said, “I’m not making it up.”
Photos by Mindy C. Miller