Celebrating Jerry Donowitz and the Residency Program He’s Shaped

UVA| Thu Apr 13 16:12:38 EDT 2017
Celebrating Jerry Donowitz and the Residency Program He’s Shaped

Gerald R. Donowitz, MD, known to friends as “Jerry,” has run UVA’s Internal Medicine Residency Program since 2000, and over that time has made profound and lasting contributions to its quality and reputation. As he prepares to step down in June, a weekend-long series of events in late March celebrated his tenure as program director and brought together scores of current and former trainees to reflect on the program’s past, present and future.

Organized jointly by the School of Medicine and the Medical Alumni Association and dubbed the “Residency Celebration,” the March 24-26 event included an opening reception, panel discussions featuring graduates of the residency program, a festive dinner for former internal medicine chief residents and special guests on North Grounds, and a farewell brunch on Sunday at the Battle Building. Altogether, more than 200 attended from across the country and around the globe — including the first internal medicine resident from Saudi Arabia, Reem Almaghrabi, ’13.

Mitch Rosner, MD, chair of the Department of Medicine, commented: “Jerry Donowitz has served with distinction since 2000 as both Program Director for the Internal Medicine Residency Program and as Vice Chair of Education for the Department of Medicine. During this time, his passion for teaching and for excellence in patient care has been imprinted on hundreds of residents and medical students. No one in the department has had a more profound influence on ensuring that young physicians coming through our program develop their skills to the highest possible levels. He demands excellence — and more importantly, he lives this in everything he does.”

Donowitz, who is the Edward W. Hook Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases and International Health, will continue to serve as DOM’s Vice Chair of Education, according to Rosner, heading up the department’s efforts to “improve DOM-related medical education content and curricula for students, residents and fellows.” Brian Uthlaut, MD, an associate professor in the Division of General, Geriatric, Palliative and Hospital Medicine who currently serves as vice program director for the residency program, will take over as director. Uthlaut, a graduate of the residency program, describes Donowitz as a “powerful mentor” whose “work ethic, generosity of spirit, principled nature, and courage have inspired and shaped many of us who trained at UVA during his leadership tenure.”

The internal medicine residency program is the largest at UVA, with about 100 interns and residents enrolled in any given year. During Donowitz’s time as director, the program grew in both size and international stature. Uthlaut notes that Donowitz has “worked tirelessly to ensure that resident education remains at the forefront of the Department of Medicine’s structure, in a time of constantly evolving rules and expectations for graduate medical education.”

Two qualities for which the program is particularly known — its esprit de corps and its resident-based leadership — have been nurtured by Donowitz, himself a former resident and fellow at UVA. “He has helped build up a foundation of committed resident colleagues who regard each other as family and take care of each other both inside and outside the hospital,” says Uthlaut.

A mark of the high regard in which Donowitz is held by his trainees is the fact that nearly 80% of his former chiefs attended the event — including his very first chief residents, Matt Hook and Chris Reid.

Below is a slide show from the event, with pictures by Sarah Brown Rothschild, Director of Constituent Relations for the UVA Medical Alumni Association and Medical School Foundation. (Exception: the final photo, which gathered together all the former chief residents in attendance, was taken by Amy Jackson.)

What about you would surprise us? I am a pretty good baker, with pies receiving most of my attention; I enjoy east-coast swing dancing, though I don’t dance very often; and I like playing Piedmont Blues on my guitar, which my grandson Brock seems to enjoy as well.

Conducting rounds with residents. “Loved and admired [Dr. Donowitz’s] dedication to all residents. Resident education came first, always!” (From a collection of “Residency Memories” compiled for the celebration weekend.)

At morning report: “One of my favorite things about Dr. Donowitz was the morning report [in which he welcomed the] incoming interns. The time he spent learning about them all prior to their arrival was touching to me every year. It encouraged me to do the same for my incoming interns.” (From “Residency Memories.”)

Donowitz receiving a 2015 All-University Teaching Award: “He is well known in the Department as an outstanding physician on the wards, committed to compassionate patient care, and as an excellent teacher, leaving students and residents inspired and challenged by lifelong lessons.” -Brian Uthlaut, MD

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