Humphrey Becomes a Master in the American College of Physicians

holly humphrey 3
Holly Humphrey, MD, dean for medical education at the Pritzker School of Medicine
By Alison Szot

Holly Humphrey, MD, dean for medical education at the Pritzker School of Medicine and University of Chicago Medical Center, has been named a Master in the American College of Physicians (ACP), a prestigious honor bestowed on a small group of highly distinguished physicians. She will accept the honor during an official awards ceremony in April at the ACP’s annual meeting in Toronto.

ACP Masters must be highly accomplished individuals who are distinguished by the excellence and significance of their contributions to medical science or to the art of medicine.

Humphrey, who has been dean for medical education since 2003, has launched a series of innovative programs to encourage faculty development, enhance medical professionalism and improve student-faculty diversity. But despite these and other numerous achievements throughout her career as an internist trained in pulmonary/critical care medicine, Humphrey said she is overwhelmingly grateful for her nomination to mastership.

“This is a special achievement. I remember my mentors receiving this award as I was growing up in academic medicine,” she said. “When I reflect on the fact that I have now been selected for this high honor, I am filled with a humbling sense of gratitude for their guidance.”

Humphrey has spent her entire career in the University of Chicago medical community, beginning with medical school and continuing through residency training and fellowship. She spent 14 years as director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program prior to her appointment as dean for medical education.

One of the hallmarks of Humphrey’s tenure has been the Pritzker Initiative, a revamping of the medical school’s curriculum that emphasizes active learning and integration among disciplines.

Although an appointment to ACP Mastership does not bring any official responsibilities, Humphrey said that, for her, it inspires an even greater sense of responsibility to guide the next generation of physicians and, ultimately, beget high quality patient care. She hopes her recognition also might raise Pritzker’s visibility and illuminate its reputation for excellence in medical education.

“I am very proud of the fact that we have a committed full-time faculty who contribute in extremely meaningful ways to the education of our students and residents,” Humphrey said. “I happen to be in a highly visible position, but the real accomplishments are made by our faculty and students on behalf their patients and on behalf of the discovery of new knowledge. I feel the ACP has chosen me for this recognition as a symbol of our faculty’s accomplishments.”

Humphrey’s sharp focus on the importance of mentoring in medicine also elicited an invitation to participate as an editor for the fifth book in the ACP’s six-part Teaching Medicine series. The book, Mentoring in Academic Medicine, is an analysis of professional development across the continuum of medical education. It discusses the challenges and benefits of mentoring students, residents and faculty as well as audiences of special consideration such as minorities and women.

Humphrey said that, unlike other projects she is solicited for, she didn’t hesitate at all to accept this one. Her “entire career is the result of outstanding mentoring,” and she saw the project as an opportunity to crystallize her thinking on the topic.

She also notes that the invitation came at a time when development of the Pritzker Initiative was under way, and she saw a very synergistic relationship between the book’s emphasis and the prominent role of mentoring in the medical school’s new scholarship and discovery track.

See the Take 5 interview with Humphrey in the April issue of Forefront.