August 23, 2019—Steven Kraft, P.A. ’76, M.D. ’81, followed one golden rule throughout his 26 years of practice as a cardiologist in Gainesville: he treated patients how he would want to be treated.
“It’s important to patients and their families that we see them first as people, not their diseases,” Kraft says. “Treat patients how you would hope to be treated if you were the ill person yourself.”
It’s advice he imparts to young people when he conducts presentations for pre-professional students at UF, and it’s a philosophy he hopes to pass on to the recipients of the Steven Kraft, M.D., and Randy Kraft Award. Given to one graduate of the UF School of Physician Assistant Studies each spring, the award recognizes excellence and a commitment to the PA-patient relationship.
“Having a career in medicine is an ongoing educational process,” Kraft says. “I’m hoping the same initiative the recipients had during their training will carry through and encourage them to continue to grow their excellence in their practice.”
Ellen Toneff, MPAS ’19, is the second recipient of the Steven Kraft, M.D., and Randy Kraft Award. She says the honor encouraged her to reflect on her training at the UF School of PA Studies and recognize its lasting impact as she begins her practice in Tampa.
“The faculty pushed me to challenge myself, and through their actions and how they treated me, they reminded me to give back. This award pushes me to give back now that I’m a practicing PA,” Toneff says. “Being a Gator PA feels like I’m part of a bigger family. Every step of the way, we were taught to be our best. It’s been lifechanging.”
Kraft agrees that the education students receive at the UF School of PA Studies creates caring, compassionate practitioners. After completing his PA training at UF, Kraft worked for a year in the hematology/oncology section of Gainesville’s Malcom Randall VA Medical Center. He gained mentors in a couple faculty members who encouraged him to pursue a medical degree.
Kraft says he started medical school armed with important lessons culled from his PA training.
“Interacting with patients through taking a superbly detailed history and physical exam — the mainstay of the PA concept — should be the foundation in all of medicine. Not compromising that interaction is key to gaining patients’ trust and confidence,” Kraft says.
After graduating from the UF College of Medicine in 1981, Kraft remained at UF to complete a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in cardiology. He then practiced for 18 years at the North Florida Regional Medical Center, where he encouraged his practice to add PAs to the health care team. Next, he served as an associate professor in the UF department of radiology, developing its advanced cardiac imaging program.
Working at the VA Medical Center as a cardiologist in the advanced cardiac imaging program for eight years afforded Kraft the opportunity to work with PA students both in the classroom setting and during clinical rotations, an experience the now retired cardiologist looks back on fondly.
“The PA students tend to be a highly motivated group of people. They understand how competitive it is to get into the program. They all want to do a good job,” Kraft says. “Working with them was one of the highlights of my time.”