Alper Humanitarian Awards 2019
Friday, March 29, 2019

March 29, 2019

Chattanooga, TN


Harold Alper, MDOn Friday, March 29, 2019, The University of Tennessee College of Medicine Chattanooga sponsored the 12th Annual Alper Humanitarian Lecture and Awards, made possible through an endowment by the family of the late Harold Alper, MD, dedicated ENT Surgeon and Faculty member in the Department of Surgery.  This year's senior resident who was presented with the Alper Humanitarian Award was Alexandria Cooke, MD, Family Medicine Cheif Resident.  In addition to a beautiful crystal award highlighted by Dr. Alper's image, Dr. Cooke received a significant monetary award from the endowment.


Dr. Cooke's nomination stated that, "Dr. Cooke has demonstrated a lifelong interest in providing respectful and compassionate care to others. We see this demonstrated before she started medical school when she spent 8 months as a Health and Lifestyle Educator stationed in Guinea, West Africa. While in medical school she spent a week in Ghana, also in West Africa, working on a general medical/surgical ward. She subsequently spent several weeks during her Family Medicine Residency program providing care to patients in rural Haiti.


Alexandria Cooke, MD, Winner of the 2019 Alper Humanitarian AwardDr. Cooke's dedication to providing compassionate patient care is by no means limited to medical trips to remote places. She has a reputation in our office as being a quietly competent physician who is always willing to help other providers by seeing extra patients and spending the time needed to make sure each patient gets the attention they require. In an office such as ours, which sees a high percentage of indigent and underserved individuals with multiple physical needs, emotional health concerns and social/financial challenges, every patient care session has its share of challenges. Despite this, our head nurse, Sheri Carter, states 'I have watched Dr. Cooke in the office for two and a half years. She has remained positive no matter how much of a workload she has. She is very respectful to her patients, the staff and her peers. I have never heard a negative word come out of her mouth. She is to be admired.'  Dr. Talbert, one of our faculty physicians, says,"It is a pleasure working with Dr. Cooke. She remains calm in stressful situations, has an excellent fund of medical knowledge which she applies to patient care, and shows compassion to her patients and their families. She shows maturity beyond her years of training.'


As one of our co-chief residents this past year, Dr. Cooke not only provided an exemplary role model for compassionate care but went out of her way on several occasions to individually mentor junior residents struggling with the logistics of providing competent patient care in an environment as demanding as ours. She also served as an active participant in the interdisciplinary team tasked with identifying ways to improve our patient care system. Dr. Griffin, another one of our faculty physicians, notes 'Dr. Cooke is always professional, reliable and humble. She has been a constant impetus for positive change in our program.'


The care Dr. Cooke provides to patients as part of her residency training is not, however, limited to this office. She participated in two quality improvement projects targeting improved vaccine compliance. She provided home care services to patients on multiple occasions and is known for the frequency of her telephone calls to seniors and expectant moms. In addition, she continues to regularly participate in health fairs at her home church in Georgia, providing community outreach as a health care educator. Our chair, Dr. Worthington, observes that 'Dr. Cooke goes beyond medicine to care for her patients.'


Although her residency training in Family Medicine will soon be over, Dr. Cooke has decided to continue her training with a focus on providing care for underserved individuals. She has chosen to complete a two year fellowship focusing on women's health issues, and has been selected by Clinica Medicos to be their next fellow. Clinica Medicos is a free standing medical office here in Chattanooga dedicated to caring for the underserved Latino population. Although they provide a full spectrum of patient care, the high demand for prenatal and obstetrical care allows for focused training in meeting the medical as well as social needs of this population.


As a faculty, we are very proud of Dr. Cooke and the way she has represented our department and cared for her patients over the past 3 years. Dr. Close, another one of our faculty physicians, expresses our feelings well when she says 'I hope to work with Dr. Cooke in the future as a faculty colleague. She is bright, capable, and truly cares about her patients.'


Nancy Dickey, MD, 2019 Alper Humanitarian Awards SpeakerThe guest speaker was Nancy Dickey MD, and she provided an engaging presentation, "Can We Achieve Humanism in Medicine in a Snapchat World?".  After nearly 12 years of service as president of the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) and vice chancellor for health affairs for The Texas A&M University System (January 2002 through October 2012), Dr. Nancy W. Dickey returned to the College of Medicine where she serves a number of roles both academic and administrative. During her tenure, the health science center grew the number of programs and number of graduates, expanded its research programs, and extended its service to the citizens of Texas. Currently, she serves as executive director of the Rural and Community Health Institute working with physicians and hospitals across the state of Texas to facilitate best practices in patient safety, enhanced quality of care, and physician excellence and demonstrating the importance of translation of sound policy and evidence-based medicine across the spectrum of practice sites and care delivery. Since July 2017, she has been the Department Head of the Department of Primary Care Medicine. Other roles at A&M include service as interim dean of the TAMHSC-College of Medicine (June 2000 until Dec. 31, 2001) and founding director of the TAMU Family Medicine Residency. Dickey was the first woman elected president of the American Medical Association. She is the recipient of numerous awards: Institute of Medicine (2007), Texas's Women's Hall of Fame (2010), and six honorary doctorate degrees. 


Following Dr. DIckey's presentation the nine nominees -- all residents in their final year of training in Chattanooga -- who were nominated from their colleagues and faculty for the 2019 Alper Humanitarian Award were recognized with certificates and cash award from the endowment:


Department 2019 Nominees
Emergency Medicine Duane Jurma, MD, Chief Resident
Family Medicine Alexandria Cooke, MD, Chief Resident
Internal Medicine Byung Ban, DO, Senior Resident
Obstetrics and Gynecology       Elissa P. Nagy, DO, Chief Resident
Orthopaedic Surgery Ryan Voskuil, MD, Chief Resident
Pediatrics Hannah Cox, MD, Senior Resident
Pediatrics Nicholas Webster, MD, Senior Resident
Surgery Gavin R. Wilks, MD, Chief Resident
Urology Nathan Jung, MD, Chief Resident


At the conclusion of the announcement of the awardee, a brunch was hosted in the Erlanger POB Conference Room to honor the Alper family, Dr. Dickey (our speaker), all the nominees and our winner, Dr. Alexandria Cooke.



UT College of Medicine Chattanooga     960 East Third Street, Suite 100     Chattanooga, TN 37403     (800)947-7823, ext 6956

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