Wednesday, May 10, 2017

UK's Doug Scutchfield, international leader in public health, accepts Libraries Medallion for Intellectual Achievement

F. Douglas Scutchfield, M.D.
In what he called "a coda to my academic career," Dr. F. Douglas Scutchfield accepted the University of Kentucky Libraries Medallion for Intellectual Achievement Tuesday night.

Scutchfield, who retired as a UK professor in January but remains active in teaching, research and mentoring, has been an international leader in public health. He was founding director of UK's School of Public Health, now a college, and the UK Center for Health Services Research and Management. He has been chair of the Health Services Department and Preventive Medicine Department, and is a past associate dean of the College of Medicine. He was the first Peter P. Bosomworth Professor of Health Services Research and Policy.

UK President Eli Capilouto said in presenting the award that he greatly appreciated Scutchfield's willingness to teach undergraduate courses, something most professors with his portfolio don't do.

Scutchfield told the audience at the Libraries Spring Gala, "Many of my new ideas have formed as I work to prepare a presentation for students or listen to their consideration of a research topic for a thesis or dissertation." He also had some advice for his friend Capilouto and other university administrators about the need to help different academic disciplines work together to solve problems.

"The contemporary U.S. management model of the university as a business, with organizational hierarchies and operating divisions, colleges and departments, may not be the most effective organizational mechanism for addressing the creation of new and more effective ways of dealing with the problems that we should be attempting to address," he said. "If we are to best address our mission of the scholarship of integration, then we must find ways to encourage and support critical examination of new mental models and paradigms at the intersection of the academic disciplines we represent. We cannot work in silos; they must be bridged!"

As an example, Scutchfield cited the "socio-ecologic determinants of health," such as "education, jobs, socio-economic status, racial equity, housing and the built environment." He said the disciplines around those topics have "little interaction that focuses on the larger set of mental models and new paradigms to be derived from interaction about social determinants" of health.

Scutchfield said UK has "two potential illustrations of this potential," a new building where research will focus on health disparities, especially in Appalachia, and a possible planning grant from a foundation that, "if funded, leads to something bold to enhance the role of Extension in advancing health."

Born in Wheelwright, Scutchfield earned his bachelor’s degree from Eastern Kentucky University and his medical degree from UK. Following practice in Morehead, and in conjunction with that work, he began his career at UK as a field professor of community medicine. He was the first chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Alabama, then an associate dean of the College of Community Health Sciences. Later he became founding director of the Graduate School of Public Health at San Diego State University and held faculty appointments at the University of California campuses in Irvine and San Diego, a UK news release said.

He was certified by the American Board of Preventive Medicine in 1974 and the American Board of Family Practice from 1971 to 1985. He was a charter diplomat of the latter organization and is a fellow of both. He is a fellow of the American College of Preventive Medicine, served as a regent and president, and won the college’s Distinguished Service Award and Special Recognition Award. He has served as a member of the board and as president of the Association of Teachers of Preventive Medicine, which gave him its highest recognition, the Duncan Clark Award.

Scutchfield is a member of the Public Health Accreditation Board and serves as chair of its Accreditation Committee. The board accredits local and state health departments, and Kentucky has been a leader in getting its departments accredited.He  served as a secretary-treasurer of the Association of Schools of Public Health, a member of the Secretary of Health and Human Services Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Council, and a board member of the Public Health Foundation, which presented him with the Theodore R. Ervin Award. He In 2004, he received the Balderson Lifetime Achievement Award of the National Public Health Leadership Network.

Scutchfield was a member of the American Medical Association House of Delegates and served as chair of the AMA Section Council of Preventive Medicine on several occasions. He was elected to membership in the AMA’s Council on Medical Education, and served as its vice chair and member of its executive committee. He represented the AMA as a member of the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education, the Liaison Committee on Specialty Boards, the American Board of Medical Specialties and the Committee on Allied Health Education and Accreditation. He received AMA’s Dr. William Beaumont Award as its outstanding young physician in 1985 and its Distinguished Service Award, the highest recognition of a physician, in 2003.

A skilled editor, Scutchfield has served as editor of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and is a member of the editorial board of the American Journal of Public Health. He also served as the editor of California Medicine and the San Diego Physician, both of which won awards during his tenure as editor. He served as editor of Appalachia Medicine and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Community Health. He is the author of numerous textbooks, text chapters and published articles in referred journals. His avocational interest in Thomas Merton resulted in a book he co-authored with Paul Evans Holbrook Jr., The Letters of Thomas Merton and Victor and Carolyn Hammer: Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, published by the University Press of Kentucky in 2015.

Scutchfield said his interest in Merton and the humanities reflect a part of his philosophy of being a physican. "I am a firm believer in the importance of humanity to those of us in the health professions," he said. "We do not treat a disease, we treat a person, thus we must know the humanness of the individual in front of us, as well as the diagnosis and treatment of their disease." He said student in the health professions "lack adequate exposure to the humanities in their science filled schedules."

Scutchfield has an international reputation and has been a consultant to government and non-governmental organizations in Panama, China, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Germany, as well as the U.S. But he never forgot Wheelwright, once one of Kentucky's biggest coal towns. “As a scholar, teacher, mentor, administrator and public health advocate, he has never forgotten his Floyd County roots even as he became internationally recognized and honored.”

The UK Libraries Medallion for Intellectual Achievement, created in 1990, recognizes Kentuckians who have made contributions of lasting value to the Commonwealth, and promotes education and creative thought. Past recipients include authors Wendell Berry, James Still, Bobbie Ann Mason, John Egerton and Guy Davenport; historians George C. Herring, Thomas D. Clark, George Wright and James C. Klotter; journalist Al Smith; and UK geographer Karl Raitz.

UPDATE: Al Smith praises Scutchfield in an op-ed for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

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