Karl Patrick Ober, MD, Wake Forest School of Medicine
As professor of internal medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine (WFSM), Karl Patrick Ober, MD, has influenced the lives of thousands of medical and physician assistant (PA) students, residents, fellows, and faculty. In return, WFSM learners have honored him with more than 30 teaching awards.
Throughout his 38 years on the faculty at WFSM, Dr. Ober has held many medical education leadership positions, including serving for a decade as associate dean of education, where he managed all aspects of medical school education. He has also served as internal medicine clerkship director, endocrinology fellowship director, and medical director of the PA program, a position he still holds. Students consider him a “favorite” educator because of his “congenial, easygoing style and sense of humor.”
In addition to his prowess as a clinical educator, Dr. Ober is an internationally recognized expert on Mark Twain. Colleagues and students attest that Dr. Ober’s familiarity with the legendary author may be an important factor in his success as a physician educator. Like Twain, Dr. Ober’s teaching style relies on stories to make even the most complex material approachable. His scholarship also intertwines his areas of expertise: he has published books and journal articles with titles like Mark Twain and Medicine: “Any Mummery Will Cure,” “The Pre-Flexnerian Reports: Mark Twain’s Criticism of Medicine in the United States,” and “Mark Twain’s ‘Watermelon Cure.’” Dr. Ober has made many contributions to combining the human and science aspects of medicine, including establishing a preclinical professionalism and ethics course at WFSM.
“Dr. Ober is the epitome of humanism in medicine; he embodies all that is needed in today’s modern and often disconnected medical system and he is a beacon for compassion, honesty, and respect,” a former student attests.
As testament to Dr. Ober’s enduring impact on the lives of his students, the WFSM PA program established the Patrick and Cathy Ober Community Leadership Award in 2015. This annual award, which bears his name, honors a student who has demonstrated “remarkable dedication to community service and leadership in outreach, philanthropy, and humanitarianism.” Dr. Ober has twice been honored as Alpha Omega Alpha Visiting Professor, first in 2011 by Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and then in 2014 by Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.
Born in Ames, Iowa, Dr. Ober earned a bachelor of science in biochemistry with high honors from Michigan State University and his medical degree from the University of Florida College of Medicine. He completed his residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in endocrinology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.