Dr. Joanne Oakes accepts the Humanism in Medicine Award with her family.
Dr. Joanne Oakes accepts the Humanism in Medicine Award with her family.

Dr. Joanne Oakes, associate professor of emergency medicine, is the 2012 recipient of the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award presented by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.

The Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award annually honors faculty who are exemplary in their compassion and sensitivity in the delivery of care to patients and their families, who administer scientifically excellent clinical care, and who serve as role models to students.

Oakes completed her emergency medicine residency in 1999 at Carolinas Medical Center and first worked at The University of Tennessee in Knoxville before joining the Medical School in 2002.

“I am humbled and grateful,” she said of winning the award. “I can think of so many others who should receive this award. I did not know I was nominated and, again, am grateful. I believe medicine is a team sport. I feel we all help each other along!”

Oakes said that she feels patients want to be heard and listened to by their physicians. “I need to continue to communicate as best possible to create a real connection with learners and with patients,” she said. “Fear, pain and worry are powerful motivators for patients (students, too!), and I work to address those concerns as best possible. The medical world can seem cold and impersonal ­– I have learned not to be afraid of laughing at myself, learning from my mistakes, and being, simply, human as we share our experiences.”

As the award recognizes her contributions as a role model, Oakes said that she, too, has been impacted by mentors throughout her professional career. “Role models share their experiences and valuable life lessons. One of my role models says continually, ‘Imagine the possibilities.’”

She counts among her role models: “James “Red” Duke for his humor, skill and compassion; Brent King for his grace and leadership; Oscar Rosales for his impeccable attention given to each patient; John Marx, Jeff Kline, and Mike Gibbs for demonstrating  true clinical excellence and teaching me that the clinician researcher is in each of us; Phil Orlander,  Margaret Uthman, and Patricia Butler for their visionary educational commitments; Judianne Kellaway, Marylee Kott and Carla Rogers for demonstrating grace, strength, love and style! Kathy Braico for teaching me to never give up in medicine and how one’s efforts can change the world one patient at a time; and Dave Robinson for his tenacity, patience, and love for people and service.  I could go on and on! I think we all learn from each other… .”

She also has supporters and role models outside of the profession.

“I want to thank my department and colleagues for supporting me, to my parents who taught me, to Don Howell who taught me that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,’ to my students, and to my sister Kate Blaine, best friend Tonya Merritt, my husband and my children William, Elizabeth and Ian, all who teach me daily about the joy in this journey we share together,” she said.

-Darla Brown, Office of Communications, Medical School