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GSM Faculty Honored for Excellence

Each year, faculty are recognized for their extraordinary efforts in education and discovery. The 13th annual University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine Faculty Awards were presented by James J. Neutens, PhD, Dean; William Metheny, PhD, Assistant Dean for Graduate Medical and Dental Education; and Mitchell Goldman, MD, Assistant Dean for Research, during the New Resident and Fellow Welcome Reception and Awards Ceremony. Faculty recognized for the 2015 faculty awards are

The GSM Spirit Award:
Henry S. Nelson, MD, Professor, Surgery

Dr. Nelson has devoted his career to education and healing at the UT Graduate School of Medicine. He has been a professor of Surgery since 1994, and he says teaching is his passion. He has also held the role of vice chair of the department for several years and served as interim chair on two occasions. He is currently serving on multiple committees for The University of Tennessee Medical Center, and he was instrumental in the expansion of the Surgery Residency program. Dr. Nelson has received his departmental faculty award twice in addition to the GSM Excellence in Teaching Award. He is now the first faculty physician to receive the GSM Spirit Award twice with Dean Neutens noting that he has earned it again since first earning it in 2009.

Among many quotes from residents praising his teaching efforts, one resident said, "Dr. Nelson was the epitome of what I thought a surgeon, professional and teacher should be. He was always in a pleasant and inviting mood. You could clearly see that all the patients and staff had the highest respect and admiration for him. He was always enthusiastic for students to join him in the OR. Most importantly, he was comfortable with teaching and providing instruction, gradually increasing responsibility and expectations the longer I was on the service. He was my favorite attending to work with."

Excellence in Teaching Award:
James Lewis, MD, Associate Professor, Surgery

Dr. Lewis joined the UT Graduate School of Medicine in 2008; has been an associate professor since 2013; and served as clerkship director for four years. As clerkship director, he revamped the curriculum and the fourth-year rotation, making the rotation more conducive to patient care continuity and comprehensive surgical subject learning. He also revised the evaluation process, and this year he established a surgical skills competition in the UT Center for Advanced Medical Simulation for M3 students. As a result of his work, more students have applied for the rotation. Dr. Lewis also directs the Surgery Grand Rounds program and was an inaugural member to the Academy of Scholars, to which he also serves as chair.

As Chair of Surgery, Dr. Goldman said, "Dr. Lewis is the consummate educator dedicated to his learners, creative in his methods, and conscientious in his commitment. He has my highest recommendation."

Excellence in Teaching (Volunteer):
Hobart Akin, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor, Surgery

Dr. Akin is currently serving as surgical director of the UT Center for Advanced Medical Simulation, a role he has held since 2012. He has shared his talents and time to further develop existing courses and create new courses for surgical residents and medical students. He also is said to make sure each learner receives the time and attention needed for a particular task. Several residents have noted that they are inspired by his passion for learning, teaching and service with one resident saying, "Dr. Akins's true commitment to surgical education has always stood out. No matter what is happening, he always shows up for us, going above and beyond to prepare for our classes and discuss our research projects or anything else we may need."

Dr. Goldman said, "Throughout his career, Dr. Akin has been a committed and well-respected educator in the department. Dr. Akin has always given more than required; no job has been too large or too small for Dr. Akin to fully participate."

Excellence and Leadership in Clinical Research:
Craig Towers, MD, Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology

Dr. Towers is considered the leading researcher in his department, and many residents ask for his guidance for their research projects. He has contributed to residents' scholarly activity, and many of their projects have been accepted for publication and presentation. One of Dr. Towers's most distinguishing research skills is the ability to identify a clinical question, design a clinical trial to answer the question, and structure a trial that is not only easy to understand but also can be completed in a timely manner. He currently has four Physicians Medical Education and Research Foundation-funded projects and more than 15 Internal Review Board trials in progress, all involving resident physicians.

Larry Kilgore, MD, Interim Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology said, "Dr. Towers is an extremely valuable member of our department as an educator and researcher. His clinical and research expertise provide leadership for our department, including faculty, staff and residents. It is with great pleasure that I recommend him for this year's award."

Posted July 27, 2015


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