On May 26, Jim Woodruff, MD, Associate Dean of Students here at the Pritzker School of Medicine, received the Faculty Service Award from the University Community Service Center (UCSC). At a luncheon that honored all exceptional volunteers in our community, including Philip Hsu, MSTP, and Victoria Wang, MS2 (see previous article), Holly Humphrey, MD’83, Dean for Medical Education, spoke to Dr. Woodruff’s longstanding and sustained commitment to helping the most vulnerable communities receive equitable medical care.
The UCSC luncheon honored students, faculty, and staff from across campus for their accomplishments in and dedication to service in our surrounding communities. As noted, Phil Hsu and Victoria Wang were recognized for their efforts in founding the Bridgeport Free Clinic with the President’s Volunteer Service Award, which they received alongside University of Chicago undergraduate student Syeda Ally. Other members of our campus community were honored with Staff Service Awards, Community Partner Service Awards, and more, reaffirming the vibrant service learning and contributions that are a part of life at the University of Chicago.
Dr. Woodruff was nominated—and awarded—for his career-long commitment to ensuring that underserved communities receive quality health care. In his current role as Associate Dean of Students, Dr. Woodruff oversees our student-run free clinics, the five community clinics throughout Chicago treating uninsured patients in communities that are underserved by the healthcare system. Dr. Woodruff’s oversight ensures that these clinics a) provide excellent patient care, b) allow our students to gain hands-on experience in both patient care and medical service, and c) provide leadership opportunities for our students in the realm of clinic management and community outreach.
Dr. Woodruff views this service work as an integral part of professional development. When students go beyond expectations of the curriculum to address the needs of their patients, they are embracing their profession as a vocation. These service experiences are powerful; over 90% of our trainees pursue work at our free clinics and list these experiences as among the most meaningful activities of their medical school career. Simultaneously, these service activities address the needs of underserved patients in areas without accessible health care and enhance the Medical Center’s relationship with the surrounding communities.
Dr. Woodruff is no stranger to service work himself: in 2013, he received the Advocacy and Community Service Award from the Society of General Internal Medicine, Midwest Region; the year before, he received the Volunteer Physician of the Year award from Community Health Clinic, one of our student-run clinics where he served as an attending physician. As a medical student, Dr. Woodruff pursued two elective rotations at the then-underfunded Harlem Hospital, and was selected for a health care and human rights fellowship during which he provided medical care to Native Americans living in rural Southeast Alaska.
He is the faculty advisor for Remedy, a medical student organization dedicated to relieving the health disparities of developing countries, and for Medical Students for Health Equity, which works to identify and surmount the obstacles preventing adequate healthcare resources from being devoted into the South Side of Chicago. Dr. Woodruff “walks the walk”—he leads by example when it comes to engaging our students in medical service.
Congratulations, Dr. Woodruff!