COVID-19 Information

Edit Entry | Edit CV

Joseph F. O'Donnell, MD

Emeritus Professor of Medicine
Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry


Dartmouth Medical School, BMS 1971
Harvard Medical School, MD 1973
Harvard University, BA 1969

Norris Cotton Cancer Center

Contact Information

Dartmouth Medical School
HB 7010
Hanover NH 03755

Office: Student Affairs Office, Remsen 310D
Phone: 603-650-1509

Professional Interests

Medical Education
Humanities in Medicine
Professional development
Palliative Care

Courses Taught

Hematology SBM
On Doctoring
Health, Society and the Physician
Problem Based Learning


Joe has always been interested in education. When he returned to Geisel in 1978 after NIH, he was named director of the SBM hematology and oncology courses. Joe became head of the curriculum committee soon thereafter and when Stan Roman left his position as deputy dean (“a heartbeat away”), Joe filled his position. Joe is currently a Senior Advising Dean and Director of Community Programs. His passion has been for connecting students with opportunities for service and using literature and the arts as a way to reflect about that service as a means to moral development. Some of Joe’s pet projects have been around behavioral issues that make us sick, like tobacco, alcohol, drugs, sexual behaviors, nutritional issues, lack of physical activity, environmental toxins, violence etc. Joe is really interested in both prevention and end-of-life care and all that comes with that topic (suffering, spiritual issues etc). He runs several service projects like the Schweitzer Fellowship, the Schwartz Fellowship (around compassion centered care), the Koop Scholars program (addressing addictions), the Urban Scholars, the Humanism Honor Society and has been involved in most global health adventures at Dartmouth (helped to found DIHG).

Joe has been chair of the AAMC’s Northeast Group on Educational Affairs, a member of the Medical School Objectives Project steering group—he helped write MSOP 3 on spirituality, end of life and cross cultural care—and also edited a book of stories about the MSOP Objectives called a “Life in Medicine’. Joe has been president of the American Association for Cancer Education, editor of their Journal (the Journal of Cancer Education) and winner of their highest award.

Joe says his best skill (what Malcolm Gladwell calls in his book The Tipping Point) is being a connector. He sees possibilities and brings people together to do good things. Joe has also joked that his territory here is the “other than formal” curriculum…those out-of classroom experiences where lots of learning occurs and values are made. Joe is a student of institutional culture and has always tried to shape it for the better, especially for our students.

Joe would be happy to mentor faculty in the areas of recognizing and using to advantage the hidden curriculum; connecting learners with service opportunities; education for compassion, humanism, professionalism; utilizing the arts in medicine; fostering professional formation; mentoring in general; and getting connected with resources here and at other places.

Selected Publications


  • Dube CE, O'Donnell JF, Novak DH Communication skills for preventative interventions. Academic Medicine,75 (7 Supp), S45-54, 2000.

  • Ogrinc G, HeadrickLA, Mutha S, Coleman MT, O’Donnell JF, Miles PV. A framework for teaching medical students and residents about practice-based learning and improvement,synthesized from a literature review. Academic Medicine, 78 (7), July 2003.

  • O’Donnell JF Insomnia in Cancer Patients. Clinical Cornerstone, Vol. 6, Supplement 1D, 2004.

  • 92. Power CA, Zapka JG, Bognar B, Dubé C, Ferry LH, Ferguson KJ, O’Donnell JF, Rigotti N, Thomson CC, White M, WilkersonL, Geller AC, McIntosh S. Evaluation of Current Tobacco Curriculum at 12 US Medical Schools. J of Cancer Education, 19(4), 2004.

  • Geller AC, Zapka J, Brooks KR, Dubé C, Powers CA, Rigotti N, O’Donnell J, Ockene J Tobacco Control competencies for US Medical Students. American J of Public Health, 95(6), 950-955, 2005.