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insider - College of Medicine News Resource - University of Florida

A radiologist in the shadow of Hippocrates

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Published: April 29th, 2009 • Category: Awards, Top Stories

Patricia Abbitt, M.D., a professor in the department of radiology  and chief of the abdominal imaging division for the College of Medicine, was honored with the 2009 Hippocratic Award, which was given by the college’s graduating class.

It was the 40th anniversary of the award and the second time Abbitt was nominated and selected by fourth-year medical students as the physician who best exemplifies the ideals of Hippocrates.

“Every day I had the chance to work with Abbitt I learned a great deal about radiology, but more than that, I saw the characteristics of a teacher — a physician and member of this community who I want to emulate,” said medical student TJ Ward, who spoke at the award ceremony held on Friday, April 24.

Established by the graduating class of 1969, the Hippocratic Award recognizes and honors physicians who represent the highest ideals of professionalism, humanism, and teaching talent. Abbitt has instructed thousands of UF medical students during her 20 years with the college and first received the award in 2004.

Abbitt said few words during the ceremony, but later, under the shade of the London Plane tree, a sapling of the tree under which Hippocrates taught, she shared her thoughts on new challenges facing the graduates.

“We are in very difficult economic times right now. These students will, out of necessity, be very involved in working on problems regarding health care access and health care reform.”

Abbitt added, “Our students are very committed to addressing these issues by involvement and hard work.”

Ask Abbitt’s students about her likeness to Hippocrates’ ideals and you will hear stories about how the physician dispels the myth that radiologists are disconnected from their patients; how she spends her time outside of UF’s walls by working with Gainesville Harvest to feed the homeless, advocating for the Saint Francis House homeless shelter and local churches, while inspiring students to do the same.

“It says a lot about the culture of our class having voted Dr. Abbitt as our honoree,” said Omayra Marrero, academic chair for the class of 2009.