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P&S Journal

P&S Journal: Winter 1996, Vol.16, No.1
Alumni News
A Chair in Patient Care: Compliments of the Class of 1965

By Peter Wortsman

At their 30th reunion last May, members of the Class of 1965 did more than reminisce. Like doctors all over the country, they expressed concern about the effects of managed care on the quality of patient care and the increasing pressure to put the bottom line first. They decided to take action. So began a class campaign to establish an endowed associate professorship at P&S to teach "the principles and ethos of medicine as we learned it."

"We were immunized in compassion," says class chairman Oscar Garfein'65, citing the profound influence of such faculty role models as Yale Kneeland'26, Harry Rose, Edgar Leifer'46, J. Lawrence Pool'32, and so many others. "We have an obligation," Dr. Garfein insists, "to ensure that future P&S students continue to be taught in the old tradition, that they learn the human dimension of medicine as well as the science."

The plan as it now stands is to support a full-time associate professor whose principal responsibility would be to teach students how to care for patients. All too often in today's academic environment, the pressure to pursue research and publish findings takes precedence over a devotion to teaching the basics.

"It's written over the portal of Presbyterian Hospital, 'For of the most high cometh healing,'" reminds Dr. Garfein, associate clinical professor of medicine at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, who has an added personal stake in the future of medical education at P&S. His son, Evan, is a member of the Class of 1999. He wants to make sure that Evan and his peers get the same solid grounding in the art of caring as did he and generations of P&S doctors.

Dr. Garfein, who first proposed the idea of such a chair, has been greatly encouraged by the enthusiastic response of many classmates, including Roberta Carroll, Bill McCullough, Brent Lambert, Keat-Jin Lee, and others. A class committee has been set up to help raise the necessary $750,000 over the next five years in time for the 35th anniversary of the class.

The Class of 1965 also hopes by this action to send a message to other classes that it's time to get involved in "preserving our heritage," lest the old-fashioned doc join the spotted owl and the bald eagle in the list of endangered species. The classes of 1933, 1940, 1942, 1952, 1953, 1959, and 1964 contribute regularly to scholarship funds. The Class of 1958 opted for a loan fund. And just last year, members of the Class of 1953 added a concrete, or rather, iron, expression of support when they funded the reopening of the old gates of Bard Hall.

Anniversary classes with reunions coming up might well consider just how they want to make their mark on the future. In addition to the vital aid provided to P&S in this embattled time, a class gift can create a collective role model, an essential link in the chain for future doctors. The repercussions of your kindness may well reverberate for generations to come. For more information on the many modes of collective giving, contact Anke Nolting at the P&S Alumni Association, (212) 305-3498.

The class of 1965 at its 30th reunion.

copyright ©, Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center

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