Alum honored for outstanding, unique teaching
Karl Patrick Ober, MD ’74, receives AAMC 2016 Alpha Omega Alpha Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher Award
When UF College of Medicine alumnus Karl Patrick Ober, MD ’74, stands at the lectern before his students, he asks himself one question: What would Mark Twain do?
Ober was awarded the Association of American Medical Colleges 2016 Alpha Omega Alpha Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher Award. He said his award-winning teaching method centers around instilling empathy, a lesson he learned from Twain.
“One of my favorite Twain quotes is from a letter to his friend, shortly after Twain was diagnosed with gout. He says, ‘I am not kept back by the gout. The gout is of no consequence. The doctor says so himself. Neither is hell, to a person who doesn’t live there,’” Ober said. “It’s a good reminder that something routine or commonplace for me could be an overwhelming situation for my patient.”
Ober’s love for Twain started when he was a boy in Iowa. His mother mailed $1 and a coupon cut from a Cheerios box, and “Huckleberry Finn” soon arrived at their home. Today he focuses on Twain’s thoughts on medicine, authoring works like “Mark Twain and Medicine: Any Mummery Will Cure” and giving presentations at the International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies.
Ober’s students find his approach impactful. The professor of internal medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, has won more than 30 teaching awards during his 38-year career at Wake Forest. He said the recent AAMC award is a humbling recognition.
Edward Abraham, MD, dean of the Wake Forest School of Medicine and professor of internal medicine, called Ober a charismatic and inspiring teacher.
“Dr. Ober exemplifies what all physicians should be: a true humanist and a good listener who is empathetic to each patient’s needs,” he said. “Our students wholeheartedly agree and have honored him with every teaching award we have.”
Michael L. Good, MD, dean of the UF College of Medicine, extended congratulations to Ober on behalf of his alma mater.
“By building impactful relationships with his students, Dr. Ober helps to create the newest generation of capable and perceptive doctors,” Good said.
Ober said his classmates in the UF College of Medicine class of 1974 and the faculty were vital in shaping him as a physician and educator. He points to the “compassionate demeanor” of longtime dean for student and alumni affairs Hugh M. “Smiley” Hill, MD, the “articulate eloquence” of Richard Smith, MD, and the “brilliant innovation” of Robert Cade, MD, as models of dedication, enthusiasm and personal style.
“I gained, learned and was given so much during my years in Gainesville. I’m proud to be a part of the bunch from 1974,” he said. “The members of the UF College of Medicine faculty really took an interest in my development as a person and as a physician.”