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Obituary: Herb Waxman, FACP, leader in medical education

From the May ACP Observer, copyright 2003 by the American College of Physicians.

Dr. Waxman
Dr. Waxman

Herbert S. Waxman, FACP, a national leader in medical education and Senior Vice President for ACP's Medical Knowledge and Education Division, died Feb. 15, 2003. He was 66 years old.

Born in Boston in 1936, Dr. Waxman attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., as an undergraduate and received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1962.


He completed his residency at Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital in 1967 and finished his training with a Ward fellowship in hematology at Barnes Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, in 1968.

Dr. Waxman taught at the Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia from 1968 to 1977. He also directed Temple's internal medicine residency program from 1973 to 1977.

After a two-year stint as chairman of the department of medicine at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., Dr. Waxman returned to Philadelphia in 1979 to become chairman of the department of medicine and director of the internal medicine residency program at Albert Einstein Medical Center, where he worked for 17 years. At that time, he also resumed his teaching duties at Temple, where he taught for more than 20 years.

Those who knew Dr. Waxman well said that teaching was in his blood. Edward D. Harris Jr., FACP, said Dr. Waxman was drawn to teaching when the two attended medical school and trained together. "When we were residents," Dr. Harris recalled, "I would often see Herb up late with his medical students in the residents' library, teaching them how to read electrocardiograms and look at blood smears."

"I constantly run into people who describe him as a teaching genius," said Walter J. McDonald, MACP, former Executive Vice President and CEO of the College who recruited Dr. Waxman to ACP. "At the same time, he was the quintessential scholar. I learned early on not to dispute the facts with Herb because he had a corner on them."

In 1993, Dr. Waxman put those skills to work as president of the Association of Program Directors in Internal Medicine (APDIM). He led the organization's efforts to work with Congress and the Clinton administration's task force on health care reform. At issue was a plan to link workforce goals with payments to medical schools and teaching hospitals that many educators thought threatened the funding of medical education.

Among the many honors he received during his career, Dr. Waxman was given APDIM's prestigious Founder's Award in 1998.

Dr. Waxman joined the College in 1996 as Senior Vice President for Education. He was particularly well known for his interest in continuing medical education and computer-assisted diagnosis.

During his tenure with ACP, Dr. Waxman helped transform the College's education products and services. He was instrumental in pioneering ACP's new format for MKSAP, which the College unveiled with the title's 12th edition. Under his leadership, the College also launched new programs like interactive teaching formats at Annual Session and the extremely popular "hands-on" courses in clinical skills and medical computing at the Learning Center.

Dr. Waxman's colleagues said that his educational programs served as a vital link between the academic community and the College. During his tenure, the College collaborated with the Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine to produce MKSAP for Students.

"Herb was a superb doctor and educator, understanding and appreciating the needs of the patient first and the role of the physician in meeting those needs," said John Tooker, FACP, Executive Vice President and CEO of the College. "His legacy as an educator and mentor will continue through the many physicians he helped train and the outstanding educational programs he developed at the College. Herb's substantial presence in the College will continue to be sorely missed."

Dr. Waxman led by example, something he demonstrated several years ago when he voluntarily recertified in internal medicine. While he was not required to recertify, he said it was the right thing to do.

College Regent Barbara L. Schuster, MACP, worked with Dr. Waxman as part of APDIM and the College's Education Committee. "Dr. Waxman was always true to his principles," she said. "He was committed to education at all levels and to excellence in everything he did."

Dr. Waxman is survived by his wife Paula and their three children, Matthew, Marcy and Eric and five grandchildren.

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