Annual Hugh A. Walters Humanism Award announced

Dean Yamaguchi, MD, a fifth-year chief surgical resident, was honored earlier this month with the University of Florida department of surgery’s Hugh A. Walters Humanism in Medicine Award.

It is the third year that UF surgical residents have selected a peer to receive the award, which honors the memory and legacy of surgical resident Hugh Walters, MD, who died in 2008.

UF surgical residency program director George A. Sarosi, MD, an associate professor, presented the award and reflected on Walters’ traits of humility, hard work and commitment.

“He was a quiet leader,” Sarosi said, “always there when you needed him and even when you didn’t know you would need him.”

Upon acceptance, Yamaguchi, who next year will be matriculating into the vascular surgery fellowship program at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, said Hugh was one of his role models.

As part of the ceremony, the previous year’s winner gives a lecture. Tad Kim, MD, who plans a career in cardiothoracic surgery and is the 2010 award recipient, told a story of “an inspiring rivalry” between two surgeons who, while in intense competition, had a mutually beneficial respect for each other and essentially began the field of open heart surgery.

Kim, who is a fourth-year surgical resident, emphasized the importance of creating a self-sustaining culture of teaching.

“Take the time to teach someone, they’ll remember that the next year and then do the same,” he said as he then offered suggestions on how each person in their current role can contribute to creating this culture.

Kim said he selected this topic because he enjoys teaching and feels it is a way he has been able to contribute to the advancement of the department.

“For me, this award serves as a reminder to first think about how I can contribute to my program and then think about how it can help me,” he said.

Reflecting on his memories of Walters as a mentor, Kim said, “It was inspiring how much he enjoyed what he did and also how naturally talented and competent he was clinically. I felt like I could ask him anything.”