Alumni and Student Updates

Welcome to Your Calling: the Stethoscope Ceremonies

The Kirkpatricks — new student Scott, flanked by his dad, Richard Kirkpatrick, M.D. ’72 (left), and uncle John Kirkpatrick, M.D. ’73 — participated in the stethoscope ceremony in Seattle.
Photo: Clare McLean

In touching ceremonies across the WWAMI region, the 240 students in this year’s entering class received their first stethoscopes, a gift from the UW School of Medicine Alumni Association. Alumni volunteers from 20 classes ranging from 1954 to 2013 were on hand at each site to make the presentation.

In Seattle, Estell Williams, M.D. ’13, spoke about her journey to medical school, the strength of the alumni community and the important role physicians play in their communities. “The stethoscope is a symbol to everyone of who you are and what you do. Being a physician is a privilege and should be a source of joy and profound satisfaction,” said Williams. “If you lose sight of that, it becomes merely a job. If you don’t lose sight, it’s a calling. Welcome to your calling.”

For one student, receiving a stethoscope was a family affair. Scott Kirkpatrick received his stethoscope from his father, Richard Kirkpatrick, M.D., ’72; his uncle John Kirkpatrick, M.D. ’73, also participated in the ceremony. “Having my dad present me with a stethoscope is a moment I will remember forever,” said Scott.

The younger Kirkpatrick is enjoying school and is impressed by his classmates. “Students are constantly going above and beyond to help others succeed. This has allowed me to learn more than I could have imagined in such a short time,” says Kirkpatrick. He’s also making sure to follow the advice — “study hard, have fun, and go to Husky football games” — given him by his dad and uncle.

Students from the WWAMI Idaho program, wearing their brand-new stethscopes.

Our Alumni Volunteers

Thanks to the alumni who participated in stethoscope ceremonies across WWAMI.

Anchorage, Alaska
Barbara Doty, M.D. ’82
Boise, Idaho
Mary Barinaga, M.D. ’95,
     Res. ’98 (family medicine)
Anne Eacker, M.D. ’97,
     Chief Res. ’01 (internal medicine)
Linda Fearn, M.D. ’83
Bozeman, Montana
Patrick Holland, M.D. ’76
Leslee Kane, M.D. ’07
Seattle, Washington
Mary Bach, M.D. ’07
Tinsley Coble, M.D. ’94,
     Res. ’95 (obstetrics and gynecology),
     Res. ’97 (internal medicine)
Anne Eacker, M.D. ’97,
     Chief Res. ’01 (internal medicine)
John Kirkpatrick, M.D. ’73
Richard Kirkpatrick, M.D. ’72
Henry Kuharic, M.D. ’54
Raymond Vath, M.D. ’65
Estell Williams, M.D. ’13
Spokane, Washington
Matt Hollon, M.D. ’93, Res. ’97
Geoff Jones, M.D. ’96
John F. McCarthy, M.D. ’90, Res. ’92
Laramie, Wyo.
Amanda Johnson, M.D. ’03
Mark McKenna, M.D. ’05
Kim Westbrook, M.D. ’10

The 2014 Alumni Awards

Our esteemed award recipients, from left to right: Drs. Epperly, Ojemann, Van Eaton and Oliva.
Photo: Jeff Carpenter, Team Photogenic.

Revered by their peers as innovators, leaders, researchers, teachers and compassionate physicians, four distinguished alumni received awards from the UW School of Medicine Alumni Association during Reunion Weekend, June 2014. Watch each award-winner’s video by clicking on their name, below.

Distinguished Alumni Award: George Ojemann, M.D. Res. ’64

Ojemann, a UW emeritus faculty member, is a leader in the fields of neurological surgery and the neurosciences and was recognized for his career-long commitment to research and teaching. In the 1960s, Ojemann resurrected an electric simulation mapping technique for cortical localization that had been developed in the 1940s but had fallen out of use. It’s now the gold standard for planning cortical resections for epilepsy and brain tumors. Through his research, teaching and care, he has improved the lives of countless patients. Read more.

Alumni Humanitarian Award: Matthew Oliva, M.D. ’99, Res. ’03

Oliva, who maintains a private practice in southern Oregon, was recognized for his commitment to eradicating blindness worldwide. As a lead collaborator with the Himalayan Cataract Project, Oliva has completed thousands of sight-restoring cataract surgeries. He credits WWAMI for his interest in treating people in rural and underserved communities. Read more.

Alumni Early Achievement Award: Erik Van Eaton, M.D. ’01, Res.’08,
Fel. ’09

Van Eaton, a UW faculty member and a trauma surgeon at Harborview Medical Center and UW Medical Center, is also an entrepreneur and inventor. He is committed to improving patient care through efficiency, better communication and stronger resources for physicians. Van Eaton has developed two software programs: UWCores, which helps improve the patient handoff process in team care, and OCCAM (Online Clinical Care Algorithms and Messages), a system that can house all pharmaceutical information for a hospital or healthcare system. Read more.

Alumni Service Award: Ted Epperly, M.D. ’80

Epperly, president and chief executive officer for the Family Medicine Residency of Idaho, was recognized for his leadership within the WWAMI program and for his advocacy for increasing access to high-quality care in Idaho. On the national stage, Epperly has been instrumental in the development of the Affordable Care Act and has met with President Obama and Congress numerous times. Read more.

We also congratulate Ed Lopez, PA-C (Seattle Class 15), honored by MEDEX Northwest with their Lifetime Achievement Award. Lopez founded a physician assistant cardiac surgery business, helping numerous individuals in Washington launch careers in cardiology.

Watch the recipients’ videos »

Do you know an exceptional alumnus?

We are now accepting nominations for the UW School of Medicine’s 2015 alumni awards. If you know someone exceptional, please nominate them by Jan. 5, 2015. Thank you for participating!

UW Night at the Mariners

Enjoying the game: David Woods, PA-C (Yakima Class 10), and guest, Taunya.
Photo: Lynne Salkin Morris

Under bright, sunny skies on July 12, 2014, 130 UW School of Medicine alumni, family and friends gathered at “Patio at the Pen” inside Safeco Field. Alumni and their families reconnected, watched batting practice and enjoyed a dinner of baseball-field favorites with the alumni association. Afterwards, attendees joined the more than 1,700 University of Washington alumni and community members also at the game to watch the Mariners defeat the Oakland A’s, 6-2.

Reunion Weekend: 2014 and 2015

Top: The Class of 1964 celebrated their 50th reunion this year.
Bottom: Gary Kato, M.D. ’84, Rieko Kato, and Julie Sleder Francis, M.D. ’84, Res. ’86, ’87 (pediatrics),’90 (dermatology), enjoy their reunion.
Photos: Rolan Wong and Todd Gardiner, Team Photogenic

“It was great to get reacquainted after so much has happened in all of our lives since graduation. Life does go on, but my classmates are still the greatest group of people I have ever been associated with.”
—Glen Ruark, M.D. ’69

In June, UW School of Medicine alumni from 24 classes reconnected and celebrated at the 2014 Reunion Weekend. Alumni reunited at class celebrations across the city, honored alumni who graduated 50 or more years ago, heard from a panel of UW faculty members who shared research and advances in care, recognized this year’s four alumni award recipients, and toured the new UW Medicine Sports Medicine Center at Husky Stadium.

And now for 2015 — save the date!
If you graduated in a year ending in a 0 or a 5, save the date for next year’s reunion — Friday, June 5, and Saturday, June 6. More details to come! If you would like to help make your reunion a success, join your class reunion committee by contacting the alumni office at, 206.685.1875 or toll free 1.866.633.2586.

Want to see more 2014 reunion photos? Visit And learn more about this year’s reunion at

Where His Path Takes Him: Q&A With Resident Jack Sychev, M.D.

Photo: Delia Ward

When did you decide to pursue ophthalmology?
Pretty early in medical school. It’s hard to explain, but everyone folds into a certain niche where they feel comfortable. Also, you can see your diagnosis: you can take a look at the eye and often see what the problem is. The instruments we use are interesting, too. Very precise.

Why are you focusing on the retina?
The retina is probably the most interesting part of the eye. Once you have some appreciation for it, you start looking at it in a different light.

Tell me about your year away from medical school.
I wanted to take a year off medical school to do research; at the time, I was at Washington University in St. Louis. When I emailed Dr. Van Gelder [the director of the UW Medicine Eye Institute], he told me about a few projects. I chose one that I thought was unique and very novel — I was helping test a chemical on the retina of blind mice. We hoped that they would react to light after being treated, and it worked! I think it’s a very elegant solution, too.

What is your residency like?
I’m at the VA hospital, and I’m enjoying working with the veterans. It’s my fourth year, so I’m doing more surgeries. It’s exciting.

Why are you enjoying working with the veterans?
I’m working with a lot of vets from the Vietnam era, and they have a certain approach to life. They have a lot of resolve. You tell them about surgery, and they say, “ok, well, let’s just do it.”

What’s next?
I want to do retinal surgery. I’d also like to do a fellowship, and I have to find a research project and a mentor. I’d love to stay here, but you have to go where your path takes you.

Read about Sychev’s research.

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