2010 Alpha Omega Alpha Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher Award
Gary L. Dunnington, M.D., Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
What Gary L. Dunnington, M.D., has brought to his students, surgical education, and breast cancer patients defies definition. A surgical oncologist, Dr. Dunnington is J. Roland Folse Professor and chair of surgery at Southern Illinois University (SIU) School of Medicine and what his students call an “educator’s educator.” Prior to joining SIU, he was assistant professor of surgery and radiology and senior associate dean for academic affairs at the University of Southern California (USC) School of Medicine.
Over his 25-year career, his name has been frequently referenced by students who praise his “amazing ability to teach in the operating room, clinic, or core (conferences).” He has received 19 teaching awards and mentored more than 300 surgeons to successful careers as surgical educators. He has also served as a visiting professor of education to departments of surgery in nearly half of the nation’s medical schools.
His impact on surgical education is equally far reaching. In addition to serving as president of the Association for Surgical Education, he also played a critical role in the nationwide adoption of surgical skills labs for surgical residents. He is a cofounder of the American College of Surgeons’ (ACS) “Surgeons as Educators” course and his “surgery readiness” elective for senior SIU medical students is one of the school’s most popular electives. Further, a comprehensive system Dr. Dunnington developed for evaluating operating room performance was chosen by the American Board of Surgery as a template for a national system for rating performance and will become a requirement for all applicants seeking board certification.
At the national level, he has helped shape policy on medical education by serving as a member of the National Board of Medical Examiners Committee on Clinical Skills Assessment (1990-1995) and the USMLE Step II Committee. He was also a member of the Outcomes Assessment Project Advisory Group of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, which developed the six competencies all residents must master.
Through his efforts to help breast cancer patients and their families better understand treatment options—Dr. Dunnington’s name has become synonymous with hope. Both at USC and SIU, he founded and directed state-of-the-art breast cancer treatment centers (the Kenneth Norris Comprehensive Breast Center and SIU Breast Center, respectively) and has worked to make the latest research accessible to female breast cancer patients. For example, when female colleagues at the SIU Breast Center advised against the traditional lecture format of a science fair on breast cancer, Dr. Dunnington experimented with an interactive set of events that empowered instead of overwhelmed patients.
Dr. Dunnington received his B.S. degree from Ball State University and his M.D. degree from the Indiana University School of Medicine. He completed his residency training at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center.
Alpha Omega Alpha Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher Award
This award provides national recognition to faculty members who have distinguished themselves in medical student education.