By Dirk Hoffman
Published April 14, 2023
A celebratory mood was evident as the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences community gathered April 12 to recognize the winners and honorable mentions in the 2023 Louis A. and Ruth Siegel Awards for Excellence in Teaching.
It marked the first time the awards ceremony was conducted in person since 2019 — a three-year-pause enacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brielle Raine, a medical student who served as the MS4 committee lead for the Siegel Awards, greeted the audience and noted the Siegel awards “are the foremost means for recognizing extraordinary teaching in our school.”
“We’ve come together to celebrate excellence in teaching and to document the outstanding educators who have dedicated themselves to shaping the minds of future medical professionals,” she said. “These awards are dedicated to recognizing the importance of superior teaching in the preclinical and clinical portions of the medical curriculum and to provide encouragement and incentive for teaching achievement.”
Seven medical school faculty members, one fellow, three residents, five medical students and a staff member were among this year’s honorees.
Here are what nominators had to say:
“He consistently demonstrated a passion for teaching, inspiring and motivating their students to achieve their highest potential.”
“They shared their expertise in a way that far exceeded their required role as a professor in order to make sure we, as future physicians, had a good understanding of the human body.”
Students used these five words to describe Freedman: “kind, attentive, hard-working, selfless and humble.”
Nominations for Camp included the following comments:
“The learning environment he fosters from the outset with students is a perfect balance between comfort and curiosity.”
Camp was described as “kind, approachable and a superb teacher who values students rotating through the Partial Hospitalization Program as team members.”
Koehler was praised for her wide breadth of knowledge, attention to every student and being “one of the most compassionate individuals in medicine.”
As one student described, “she is thought-provoking and inquisitive.”
Another student said: “Her understanding of the world and of the diversity that makes it so beautiful, is second to none.”
A nominee wrote the following about Aguirre:
“Nominating a fellow medical student may be unconventional for the Siegel Awards, but I cannot think of someone more deserving of a nomination. Never have I had a fellow medical student go out of their way to mentor me when, quite honestly, there was nothing in it for them.”
“He has shown it is possible to be ambitious while simultaneously lifting up those around you, and he did it for me as a complete stranger.”
“To top it all off, whenever I try to thank him or do something to show him my appreciation, he rejects it all and simply tells me when I feel competent enough, the best thank you I can give is to pass down the knowledge that I have learned to someone else.”
Nominators said about Capone:
“She abundantly exemplifies teaching excellence because of their advocacy for students, respect for student-to-student teaching and enthusiasm for student engagement.”
“During the cases, she would approach each student to ask if they had any questions. If the student did not, they would still take the time to chat with the student to ensure that the student was engaged with the session and their peers.”
Schaus was honored for her 15 years of service where she “has gone above and beyond her role in the Office of Student and Academic Affairs.”
“She has demonstrated a deep commitment to the success of our students, providing guidance, mentorship and support every step of the way.”
“Her passion for medical education has been evident throughout her career as she has worked tirelessly on administrative tasks in school communications and event planning. She has been instrumental in developing much of the medical school programming, including research days, vaccination clinics, special lectureships, class meetings, SNMA events, Match Day and graduation.”
At the conclusion of the ceremony in the second-floor atrium of the Jacobs School building, Raine returned to the podium to thank Offices of Medical Education (OME) employees Julie Szrama, Sherene Milizia and Schaus for their help with the event. She also thanked David A. Milling, MD, executive director of the OME, senior associate dean for medical education and faculty adviser for the Siegel Awards.
In closing remarks, Milling pointed out the audience had not heard from any of the school’s administrators during the ceremony.
“That is because this is a student-run event. This is students who are choosing faculty, residents and peers who have meant so much to what we do.”
“It is extremely difficult to work education into your daily routine and to hear what we have heard today from the students about the winners exemplifies what we are striving for and what we continue to do,” Milling said. “So, congratulations to everybody. And I really want to recognize the amazing team of individuals who have run the process independently.”
Medical students who served on the Siegel Awards Committee are:
Louis A. Siegel received his medical degree from UB in 1923 and served as an assistant professor of obstetrics-gynecology for 21 years. He was a dedicated clinical teacher who inspired both medical students and house officers with enthusiasm and the spirit of inquiry.
Considerations for the Siegel Awards include nominees’ instructional skill, ability to stimulate thinking and develop understanding in students, demonstration of sensitivity toward the human condition and ability to serve as a role model for students.
A student committee comprised of representatives from each medical class reviews nominations from students and selects awardees.