Dean Barbara J. Stoll presents the award to Dr. Daniel Freet.
Dean Barbara J. Stoll presents the award to Dr. Daniel Freet.

Daniel Freet, M.D., assistant professor of surgery, is the 2016 recipient of the Benjy F. Brooks, M.D. Outstanding Clinical Faculty Award.

Established in 1991 by the Alumni Association, the Benjy Brooks award is presented by the McGovern’s Student Surgical Association to recognize individuals “who complement and enhance the education program by serving as role models for students.” It is named in honor of Dr. Benjy Brooks, the first board-certified woman pediatric surgeon in the United States, who joined McGovern Medical School’s faculty in 1973 and remained active in the life of the Medical School until her death in 1998.

Medical students may nominate faculty or residents for the award.

Freet said he was genuinely surprised when he found out he had won the award. “My award letter got lost in the mail, so the first I found out about it was when I received an email from the school asking me if I would be attending the award ceremony,” he said.  “I immediately called to check and see if the email was real: I thought that someone might be playing a prank on me.”

Freet received his medical degree from the University of Iowa College of Medicine and completed his residency in general surgery from McGovern Medical School, where he also completed his fellowship in plastic surgery. He joined the Department of Surgery faculty in 2001.

A busy clinical surgeon, Freet said that he enjoys teaching students things that he was taught by those who came before him. But one tradition he will not pass on is marginalizing students on clinical surgical rotations.

“I try as hard as I can to reverse that: To bring the students into the center of what I do, to have them operating right along with me so that I can give them personal instruction, to have them standing right next to me during rounds and to converse with them just like I would one of my colleagues,” he said. “I try as hard as I can to treat all the students with respect, dignity, and kindness. I also try as hard as I can to teach the students to turn around and treat their own patients and their colleagues with that same respect, dignity, and kindness.”

Freet named Dr. Donald Parks, former chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery, as a role model. “Dr. Parks is the true Gentleman Surgeon.  He treats everyone, and I do mean everyone, with the utmost respect and kindness at all times,” he said. “I try as hard as I can to emulated Dr. Parks and the way he interacts with others.”

Freet said that his goal is to teach students to treat patients with gentleness and kindness. “Our patients respect us more, and therefore are more likely to do the things we tell them to do to get better, if we treat them well.  I try to lead by example on that one, I also tell my students to think of their patients as if they were a member of their family and to treat them that way. “

Freet said that he truly loves what he does. “I am thankful to the University for allowing me to have the opportunity to teach the medical students,” he said.  “I am very humbled and very appreciative of this award.”

Former recipients of the Benjy F. Brooks Teaching Award include  Walter M. Kirkendall, M.D., 1991; William S. Fields, M.D., 1992; James T. Willerson, M.D., 1994; Harold T. Pruessner, M.D., 1995; Herbert L. DuPont, M.D., 1997; Larry D. Scott, M.D., 1999; Herbert L. Fred, M.D., 1999; Becky L. McGraw-Wall, M.D., 2000; Terry K. Satterwhite, M.D., 2001; Cheves M. Smythe, M.D., 2002; Ian Butler, M.D., 2003; Francisco Fuentes, M.D., 2004; Pedro Mancias, M.D., 2009; Lisa Armitige, M.D., Ph.D., 2010; Octavio Pinell, M.D., 2011; and Kyle Woerner, M.D., 2013.