Reflections from Past Winners

Summer is quickly fading and it’s time for residency directors, program faculty, residents, or AAFP constituent chapters to recognize a program director who has made a lasting impact on the community they serve by nominating them for the Nikitas J. Zervanos Outstanding Program Director Award. Since the first award was given by AFMRD and AAFP in 2002, an elite group of Program Directors has received this honor. We asked a few of the award winners to share their memories of being honored for their exemplary work as program directors.

Penelope K. Tippy, MD, felt humbled and proud when she was presented with the Zervanos award in 2003. Dr. Tippy is a past president of AFMRD and served as Chair of the Academic Council of the National Institute of Program Director Development (NIPDD). She spent much of her career as the Program Director at Southern Illinois University Family Medicine Residency-Carbondale. The most important thing she learned during her tenure as Program Director was the value of communication and the importance of developing relationships and learning from others. Today, Dr. Tippy is the Chief Medical Information Officer of Southern Illinois Healthcare and volunteers in the SIU-Carbondale residency program three half days per week.  

William Gillanders, MD, was honored to receive the Zervanos award in 2007. Dr. Zervanos was one of his mentors early in his Program Director journey and being recognized by his colleagues was a great compliment. Dr. Gillanders lives near his children and grandchildren in Auburn, Washington and remains active in the Washington Academy of Family Physicians (WAFP), where he is on the Governmental Affairs Committee. In addition, he is a consultant for AAFP’s Residency Program Solutions and has joined Graduate Medical Education Initiative state workgroup.

For Paul Callaway, MD, Professor, Department of Family & Community Medicine and Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita, receiving the Zervanos award in 2009 was truly the highlight of his career. The award’s namesake, Dr. Zervanos was an inspiration for Dr. Callaway and to be recognized with an award bearing his name was special. Dr. Callaway believes that being a family medicine program director is a noble calling, even when it feels impossible.

Peter Carek, MD, learned numerous important lessons as a program director that helped him both professionally and personally. He believes new program directors need a vision for their program and should work every day to ensure that vision becomes a reality. Dr. Carek is now the Professor and Chair for the Department of Community Health and Family Medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine. He was honored to win the Zervanos award in 2010.

Richard Feldman, MD, recently stepped down as the Program Director of the Franciscan Health Indianapolis Family Medicine Residency after an impressive 37 years. He continues to work with the residency program supporting the new director, precepting, lecturing, and seeing his own patients for now and will continue as the Director of Medical Education. Being honored with the Zervanos award in 2014 was one of the greatest honors of his career, especially since he was being honored by his peers.

Erika Ringdahl, MD, is the Program Director at the University of Missouri Family Medicine Residency in Columbia, Missouri. In 2015, Dr. Ringdahl was humbled to be included on a list with many of her role models when she received this award. She believes that having the opportunity to impact future family physicians is an amazing opportunity. She encourages new Program Directors to save the notes or cards received from graduates as they will be a source of comfort when you find yourself frustrated.

Timothy Munzing, MD, was added to the esteemed list of outstanding program directors in 2017. He is in his 30th year as a Program Director. Being a program director is his passion and he feels blessed to have spent much of his career in this position. The most important thing he has learned in his 30 years of experience is that building and working with an excellent team results in much better outcomes and a stronger residency program.

The Nikitas J. Zervanos award is given to those who have dedicated a lifetime of service to the education of residents in family medicine. We’re excited to see whose name we get to add to the list in 2019.

For a complete list of past winners, click here.

Would you like to nominate a Program Director for the 2019 Nikitas J. Zervanos award? Read about the nomination process here. Nominations are due October 1, 2018.