Our fifth Compassionate Caregiver Award finalist is John Zawacki, MD, a gastroenterologist at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Massachusetts.
John grew up on the campus of a Massachusetts state mental health institution where he learned compassion from his father, a psychiatrist, who was responsible for treating the hospital’s 1500 residents. “It was my father,” he says, “who taught me more than any other person in my lifetime what it means to be a physician.”
After graduating from Tufts Medical School as chief resident, John was offered a teaching position in Boston but chose to go to Worcester instead. For more than 30 years, he has cared for patients with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and inflammatory bowel disease, a difficult and painful condition that is sometimes associated with trauma and abuse.
His ability to understand both the psychosocial and clinical aspects of care is evident in his many letters from patients. Says one, “I have come to know and completely trust Dr. Zawacki as a healer without equal. He is a compassionate man who gives tirelessly of himself and is an optimist for both of us even when all options conventional and clinical have been exhausted.”
Says another, “What I have enjoyed most about my relationship with Dr. Zawacki is that he sees me as a partner and not just a patient. He listens not only to my concerns but also my ideas and is willing to trust my judgment. I have never felt rushed in a visit with him, and he knows me as a person as well as a patient.”
In addition to his close relationships with his patients, John has taught and mentored hundreds of medical students, residents and GI fellows. He often tells them, “As long as you share your feelings and have good intentions, the words will come. It [being a doctor] is not a scripted experience.”
The recipient of the 2012 Schwartz Center Compassionate Caregiver Award will be announced tomorrow night at the 17th Annual Kenneth B. Schwartz Compassionate Healthcare Dinner. The award is made possible through the generosity of Genzyme, a Sanofi company, and Sanofi Oncology.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Posted by Julie Rosen at 2:47 PM
Labels: UMass Memorial Medical Center; Tufts Medical School; Genzyme a Sanofi company; Sanofi Oncology; compassionate care; patient-centered care