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William A. Nelson Appointed to the Elizabeth DeCamp McInerny Professorship

William A. Nelson, PhD, MDiv. Photo by Kurt Wehde

William A. Nelson, PhD, MDiv, professor of community and family medicine, of medical education, and of The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice at the Geisel School of Medicine, has been appointed to the Elizabeth DeCamp McInerny Professorship.

Nelson is a healthcare ethicist whose scholarly interest is in organizational and clinical ethics, especially the relationship between ethics, quality, and value in the delivery of healthcare. He is the director of Geisel’s Ethics and Human Values Program, which integrates ethics and medical humanities into the medical school’s four-year curriculum. Additionally, he is the faculty director of the Geisel Swigart Ethics Fellowship program, a faculty advisor to the Ethics Interest Group, and co-faculty advisor to the Health and Humanities Scholars. He also is the course director of several courses in The Dartmouth Institute’s Master of Public Health (MPH) program. Previously, Nelson was the chief of ethics education for the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Center of Health Care Ethics, which he co-founded.

“I'm pleased to be able to recognize Dr. Nelson with this appointment as the next McInerny Professor at Geisel to support his work in medical ethics in our education programs,” says Dean Duane Compton, PhD.

The Elizabeth DeCamp McInerny Professorship supports the work of a faculty member in promoting ethics scholarship at Geisel. The endowed chair was established in 1983 with gifts from the trustees of the Ira W. DeCamp Foundation and an anonymous donor; the Ira W. DeCamp Foundation was created by the estate of Elizabeth DeCamp McInerny in memory of her first husband.

“It is a great honor to be given the McInerny Professorship,” Nelson says. “Through this Professorship I will seek to expand the scope of ethics scholarship while growing the visibility and permanence of ethics education at Geisel, including the school’s MPH programs.”

His teaching, writing, and research is directed toward increasing the understanding of ethics as foundational to the delivery of health care and health. Nelson is the author of more than 120 articles, plus book chapters and books. He has received recognition and awards for his work, including the U.S. Congressional Excalibur Award for Public Service. The Department of Veterans Affairs established the annual, competitive William A. Nelson Award for Excellence in Health Care Ethics. In 2006, he received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Elmhurst University. Nelson received a teaching award from The Dartmouth Institute, and in 2018 was elected to the Geisel School of Medicine’s Academy of Master Educators.

Founded in 1797, the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth strives to improve the lives of the communities it serves through excellence in learning, discovery, and healing. The Geisel School of Medicine is renowned for its leadership in medical education, healthcare policy and delivery science, biomedical research, global health, and in creating innovations that improve lives worldwide. As one of America’s leading medical schools, Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine is committed to training new generations of diverse leaders who will help solve our most vexing challenges in healthcare.