Foundation News Archive

Knowlton Awards Reap Multiplying Benefits

  • November 16, 2009
  • Number of views: 774

One grateful person has touched the lives of 125 new physicians over a span of 25 years…and these physicians have touched the lives of thousands of patients.

In 1984, a generous community business leader established an endowed fund in honor of Norman P. Knowlton Jr., MD. Since then, the investment income from the Knowlton Incentive for Excellence Fund has been awarded for a variety of educational programs that enrich our internal medicine physician residents. From this fund also comes the Knowlton Incentive for Excellence Award.

Since its inception, the program has presented 125 awards – five per year – to resident physicians recognized for their “Knowlton Spirit.”

“The Knowlton Spirit describes physicians who are compassionate caregivers dedicated to the science of internal medicine,” explains Melvin Blanchard, MD, chief, Washington University division of medical education, and director, internal medicine residency program.

Dr. Blanchard says that the benefactor was inspired to establish the fund in appreciation for the excellent medical care and compassion that Dr. Knowlton demonstrated to close family members and employees. “The donor wanted Dr. Knowlton to make the decision as to how the money would be spent. After long and careful consideration, Dr. Knowlton chose to promote excellence among internal medicine physician trainees. The fund supports aspects of our training program that foster the Knowlton Spirit.”

Each year, residents in the internal medicine residency at Washington University/Barnes-Jewish Hospital provide care to thousands of hospitalized and clinic patients from the St. Louis region. This makes the medical center environment a rich training ground where new physicians develop skills they will need for the variety of patient care settings they will encounter as their careers evolve. The educational program is structured to facilitate improvement of their practice by incorporating the latest research-based standards of care.

Since 2006, Dr. Blanchard has sat on the committee that chooses the Knowlton Award recipients.

Also on the committee is Kenneth Polonsky, MD, chairman of the department of medicine and the Aldophus Busch Professor of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine. Other committee members include the benefactor; Dr. Knowlton; Edwin Magee, MD; and the president of Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

To determine the “best of the best” chosen for the award, the committee uses a rigorous process, Dr. Blanchard says. “Once we identify the pool of eligible candidates, we carefully review their performance records focusing on all aspects, including patient care and scholarship. Then we solicit input from those who worked most closely with them. Further, we contact the potential candidates to get a sense of their plans for the future, particularly whether they will remain in the St. Louis area and contribute to the health of its residents.”

Once the Knowlton Award choices are made, Dr. Blanchard most enjoys the phone calls. “Notifying the recipients that they have been chosen to receive this award and then hearing their reaction and appreciation is most rewarding,” he says.

From Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation’s Giving Magazine, 2009, Issue 2

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