Separated by distance, united in memory
UF College of Medicine alumni reunited virtually during Alumni Weekend 2020
October 6, 2020 – Though they may have been tuning in from homes scattered across the nation and globe, UF College of Medicine alumni felt a sense of closeness and shared Gator pride while reconnecting in virtual events held Oct. 2 during the annual Alumni Weekend.
Due to caution surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Alumni Weekend featured livestreamed events for those celebrating reunion years, including the college’s first group of graduates, the class of 1960. Seven of the class’s 15 members hopped on Zoom for a virtual class happy hour to share old stories and speak fondly of classmates who have passed on. The class is the first to fully endow a UF College of Medicine class scholarship at $100,000.
Plastic and reconstructive surgeon Terry Knapp, M.D. ’70, and 16 of his former classmates —including Reuben Brigety, M.D. ‘70, one of the college’s first two Black graduates — enjoyed a virtual happy hour, sharing their fond memories from medical training and what they encountered after they parted ways to begin residencies.
“When you enter your internships, you’re suddenly surrounded by fellow interns from across the country with various academic backgrounds. What I found consistently throughout my career is that my UF College of Medicine education prepared me for virtually any challenge I experienced. That’s testimony to the preparation I had at UF,” said Knapp, who serves as director and chief medical officer of CareSpan, a multinational digital health care delivery company he founded.
During the annual Notable Alumnus Lecture, titled “Transforming Health Care Worldwide: Integrated Digital Care and P4 Medicine,” Knapp outlined new, proactive strategies for treating chronic illness utilizing technologies that enable remote patient monitoring, predictive analytics and care coordination, which he explained leads to better outcomes and cost savings.
“Digital care will not eliminate the need for clinicians,” Knapp said during the lecture. “It will permit us to be more responsive and collaborative with our patients.”
Avis Chen Boulter, M.D. ’85, who worked in pediatric anesthesiology for 27 years and currently works in the medical marijuana field, watched Knapp’s lecture before reconnecting with her classmates during happy hour. She found the events of Alumni Weekend 2020 to be a day to look forward to, full of cherished memories and sustained connections.
“It was neat to reconnect with people in the class that you haven’t seen in a while and find out what they’re up to. It felt very family-like, small enough to really find out a lot about my classmates, which wouldn’t have happened in person,” Boulter said. “Hearing sad stories about my classmates who may be sick or may have passed made me appreciate how fleeting time is but makes me grateful for the good memories.”
Other Alumni Weekend 2020 events included the induction of Michael Good, M.D., H.S. ’87, and Joe Lezama, M.D. ’97, into the UF College of Medicine Wall of Fame for their academic medicine accomplishments. For more on that story, see below.
Michael Good, M.D., H.S. ’87, and Joe Lezama, M.D. ’97, inducted into Wall of Fame
Two UF College of Medicine alumni who have dedicated their careers to ensuring a quality medical education for tomorrow’s health care professionals were recognized for their achievements and inducted into the UF College of Medicine Wall of Fame. Michael Good, M.D., H.S. ’87, and Joe Lezama, M.D. ’97, joined the ranks of 38 other alumni named to the wall who have left their mark in medicine and science. Created in 1988, the Wall of Fame recognizes outstanding alumni who have made contributions to medicine, government, education and the community.
Though precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic prevented an in-person celebration, UF College of Medicine Interim Dean Joseph A. Tyndall, M.D., M.P.H., offered his praise for the two inductees by video message.
“I am genuinely delighted to know both of our honorees have devoted their careers to academic medicine and to the education of future generations of physicians and physician-scientists,” Tyndall said. “Early in his academic career, Dr. Good led a team of UF physicians and engineers in the development of the Human Patient Simulator, a sophisticated computerized teaching tool that helped changed the teaching landscape in medical education throughout the world.
“Dr. Lezama needs several bookshelves to hold the many awards he has received over the years for teaching and patient care, including the John T. Sinnott Award for Clinical Teacher of the Year, USF Clinician of Year, and Teacher of the Year for the VA Hospitals,” Tyndall said.
Lezama, who is retired from receiving the University of South Florida, or USF, Teacher of the Year Award for winning so many times, serves as a professor of medicine and the vice-chair and associate program director for the USF Morsani College of Medicine’s Department of Internal Medicine. He’s also the chief of medical service at James Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa.
In a video message accepting the honor, Lezama revealed he still holds dear a name badge from his time working in patient transport at UF Health Shands Hospital as a UF undergraduate student in the early 1990s.
“I keep this with me as a reminder of the need to be grounded in humility no matter where you are in the process of medicine,” Lezama said. “Humility is an important component of staying patient-centered, staying humanistic and maintaining the highest level of empathy for patients. That is a vocation and a call.”
Good served as dean of the UF College of Medicine from 2010 to 2019 and briefly served as interim senior vice president of health affairs and president of UF Health. Today, he’s the CEO of University of Utah Health, dean of the University of Utah School of Medicine and senior vice president for health sciences at the University of Utah.
Good said his residency in anesthesiology and his 30 years on faculty at the UF College of Medicine afforded him many opportunities to learn from a host of skilled clinicians and scientists.
“I owe so much of my professional and academic career and growth to the incredible people at the University of Florida. I’m so grateful to the UF giants on whose shoulders I stand,” Good said in a video message. “Whenever I walked by the Wall of Fame, I was always so impressed with the many giants from our medical school: medical educators like Bob Watson, expert clinicians like Nancy Mendenhall, impressive scientists like Jude Samulski and wonderful alumni like Jean Bennett and Jason Rosenberg. I am honored to be joining these and all the individuals on the UF College of Medicine Wall of Fame.”