Founding Dean honored as namesake of senior docents

Founding Dean Richardson K. Noback, M.D., fourth from left and his wife, Nan, stand between the Noback Docents – (from left to right) George Reisz, M.D., SOM Dean Betty Drees, M.D., Fariha Shafi, M.D., David Bamberger, M.D., Brenda Rogers, M.D., ’90, and Jennifer Bequette, M.D., ’00 – during a reception announcing the new tribute on March 7 at the School of Medicine.

Students, faculty and staff filled the School of Medicine lobby in the afternoon of March 7 to honor Founding Dean Richardson K. Noback, M.D., for his role in the foundation of the education system at the SOM. Dean Betty Drees, M.D., welcomed Noback, his wife, Nan, other former deans, Marjorie S. Sirridge, M.D., and Harry Jonas, M.D., along with the first provost and founder of the School, E. Grey Dimond, M.D.

“Effective today, we are launching the Noback Docents as the term for our senior docents as a way to permanently recognize Dr. Noback’s contributions here,” Drees said.

Noback, who was involved in the original planning for the SOM as early as the 1950s, was dean of the School from its beginning in 1971 until 1978, when he resigned from that position and began his new role of senior docent, which he fulfilled until 1990.

Nelson Sabates, M.D., ’86, was a member of Noback’s Blue 5 docent team from 1982 to 1985. Sabates spoke on behalf of those who were trained by his family friend and described Noback’s demanding, yet enlightening teaching manner.

“He looked at every order we wrote, everything that we did,” Sabates said. “He was the consummate teacher … There are two people who have been my role models, not only professionally but personally in the way they handle themselves: one is my father and two is Dr. Noback. He means that much to me, and I know many, many medical students that have gone through here and many of us out in practice feel the same way.”

Senior docent, George Reisz, M.D., chair of the Department of Medicine, introduced his fellow Noback Docents: Brenda Rogers, M.D., ’90, Jennifer Bequette, M.D., ’00, Fariha Shafi, M.D., and David Bamberger, M.D.

“This is a unique system; the docent team is an academic family,” Reisz told the crowd. “Far beyond what the students learn in class, they get much more role modeling and mentoring and professionalism … The Noback Docent Program is a program to lend a certain amount of consistency throughout the training and mentoring that our docents deliver.”

The reception concluded with a word from the guest of honor who began with a mention of being humbled by this recognition and emphasized to his fellow doctors that their main goal is to provide services to improve the health of our communities.

“What’s central to the docent system is the duty to continually assess our performances. Only if we assess ours and only if society assesses its performances, are we going to know the results of our efforts and be guided on what will change for the future,” Noback said. “As custodians of an immense public trust, we have a duty and a responsibility to make the most out of our opportunities. So, to the Noback Docents, (I offer) appreciation and the hope that we can all seize legitimate opportunities to make things better.”

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