Today, Turner continues Christensen’s legacy, spending part of her week at UF Health Jacksonville mentoring medical students and residents and the other part of her week on city streets and at Sulzbacher, a comprehensive center for the area’s homeless population that addresses housing, income and health care. She also works in tandem with the team at the Sulzbacher Homeless Outreach Project Expansion, or HOPE, to connect with potential new patients. As part of this outreach, Turner takes residents and medical students on rotations to meet homeless patients where they are.
“Dr. Turner has truly gone above and beyond to inspire, teach and shape us,” class vice president Aalekhya Tenali told the crowd of faculty and students, sharing anecdotes from classmates who nominated Turner.
“It was especially impressive to see the deep connections she had forged with such a marginalized patient population; she truly was the safety net that really saw and cared for the patients who fell through the cracks of even our traditional safety net hospitals,” one student wrote. “She has character beyond what I’ve seen in anyone else I have met — character I want to emulate when I become a doctor,” another student shared.
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 and embodies professionalism, humanism and teaching prowess. The word “Hippocratic” refers to the Greek father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, who was known for his teaching and contributions to medicine. Since its inception, the award has been given to 36 faculty members who span 10 departments.
“I want the students I teach to come away with two things: first, poverty doesn’t define people; they are so much more than what they own,” Turner said when accepting the award, her voice wavering with emotion. “And even when faced with suffering you can’t change, you can provide hope.”
With her four children in the audience – along with Hatch, the recipient chosen by Turner’s graduating class in 2010 – Turner said she hopes they learn from her example.
“I hope they see that this is what can happen when you really care about something,” she said. “You have the power to make a difference in people’s lives.”