Beth Wilson, Gurpreet Dhaliwal Receive National AAMC Awards

By Mitzi Baker

The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) annually honors individuals deemed to have made outstanding contributions to academic medicine. This year, of the nine total award recipients, two are from UC San Francisco.

Gurpreet Dhaliwal, MD, professor of medicine, has won one of four Alpha Omega Alpha Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teaching Awards, which give national recognition to gifted medical student educators. Beth Wilson, MD, MPH, professor of Family and Community Medicine, has won the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award honoring a medical school faculty physician who “exemplifies the qualities of a caring and compassionate mentor in the teaching and advising of medical students.”

Both awards will be presented at the AAMC annual meeting in Baltimore on Nov. 8.

Gurpreet Dhaliwal

Gurpreet Dhaliwal

“This award was an unexpected delight and a stroke of good luck,” said Dhaliwal. “I hasten to add that teachers don’t teach for awards. We teach for the light bulb moments when students get a concept, and for those early glimpses of the terrific doctors they will become.”

As an internal medicine physician, Dhaliwal sees patients and teaches medical students and residents in the inpatient wards, clinics and emergency department of the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center. “I like being a doctor and I like being a teacher, but I love doing both at the same time,” said Dhaliwal. “My teaching largely focuses on stepping back and analyzing our thinking and decisions about the patients that students and residents are caring for.”

Along with Dhaliwal’s individual award, UCSF receives $2,500 for teaching activities, as well as the UCSF chapter of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society receiving $1,000.

“Dr. Dhaliwal’s teaching holds magic across the continuum of medical student education,” said Associate Dean for Curriculum Susan Masters, PhD, who spearheaded Dhaliwal’s nomination. “Students report that he is tremendously successful at making explicit the steps they need to automatically go through to solve clinical problems, and that they are acquiring the core skills that will enable them to identify patients’ concerns and help them solve their health problems.”

Beth Wilson

Beth Wilson

The Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award is administered through the Organization of Student Representatives, the student branch of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Every year, the student representatives from universities across the United States and Canada nominate one remarkable faculty member from their institution for the award.

According to Sofia Noori, a fourth-year medical student who is the primary UCSF student representative to the AAMC, hundreds of UCSF students participated in some way in Wilson's nomination, including voting for her, submitting stories and writing and editing the extensive application.

“Dr. Wilson truly embodies every aspect of humanism,” said Noori. “Besides being an excellent clinician and teacher, what makes her special is the gentle interest she takes in every student and patient she cares for.”

Wilson will receive an individual award, and UCSF will receive $1,000 for activities related to student representation in AAMC. “Being nominated for an award by students is the biggest compliment I could ever receive, and affirms everything I love about my work,” said Wilson.

“Being a good mentor is the most important and rewarding thing I do,” she added. “I feel truly honored to provide support and guidance to students who are so passionate about the work they do. Their commitment to improving the health of vulnerable communities gives me great hope for our future.”

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