Dr Koop appointed Dr Joseph O'Donnell as the Senior Scholar at the Koop Institute at Dartmouth and in this role, he aims to carry on the ideas of Dr Koop.
Dr O'Donnell grew up in Boston, graduated from Boston Latin School in 1965 ( the oldest public school in the nation), and from Harvard College in 1969, summa cum laude with an A.B in biology.. He did his first two years of medical school at Dartmouth and fell in love with all that Dartmouth meant and could provide. He finished medical school at Harvard in 1973 and returned to Dartmouth to do his internal medicine residency at the Mary Hitchcock Hospital from 1973-76. Inspired by the progress in cancer medicine and the great role models at Dartmouth, he decided to pursue a career in medical oncology. He trained at the National Cancer Institute from 1976-78 as a member of the US Public Health Service, an organization to which Dr Koop brought much distinction and leadership. He was recruited back to Dartmouth and has served as the Chief of Oncology at the affiliated White River Junction Veterans Administration Hospital since 1978. With his colleagues from Dartmouth, he helped build the early clinical services and define the cancer control plan at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center and in New Hampshire/Vermont. Always interested in medical education, Dr O'Donnell led the Geisel School of Medicine courses in hematology and oncology, became chair of the Geisel School of Medicine curriculum committee and later was asked to become Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs. As he continued in his oncology practice, he later became Associate Dean for Student Affairs and currently holds the title of Senior Advising Dean and Director of Community Prorams at Geisel. Dr O'Donnell is Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry.
Dr O'Donnell has long been interested in the moral development of physicians, their formation as professionals and the values they learn and internalize. He has helped lead the development of the community service programs at Geisel and has had a special interest in the doctor-patient relationship, effective communication, more focus on prevention, the integration of public health and medicine, service, advocacy, leadership as important aspects of physician development, whole patient care combining both the art and science of medicine, the role of the humanities and the arts in the educational process, wellness, self-care and renewal, spirituality and medicine and the fostering of compassion and healing, and the appropriate use of technology in medicine among many other things. These many interests resonated with the ideas Dr Koop brought to Dartmouth when he founded the Koop Institute.
Seeking a successor to carry on his programs, Dr Koop asked Dr O'Donnell to become the Senior Scholar of the CEKI, to learn at his side and and to further his ideas for the future of medicine.
In his role as Senior Scholar, Dr O'Donnell aims to:
- Foster and implement Dr Koop's ideas re the profession as a guild.
- Continue to integrate public health and medicine and to try to address important issues like the control of smoking, the reduction of the harms from substance use and violence, and the promotion of health through physical activity and obesity prevention efforts among other things.
- Fostering and enhance the doctor-patient relationship through effective communication and elegant physical diagnosis and the attention to not only biological, but also to emotional, social and spiritual issues and by focusing on this type of whole patient care, to promote healing and compassion as important aspects of medicine.
- Effectively integrate the arts and humanities into the education of health professionals.
- Foster service as a way of life, including the great model Dr Koop provided of public service as a calling.
- Encourage the rational use of technology as a facilitator and not a barrier to excellent patient care.