C. William Hanke


C. William Hanke

66BS, 71MD

One health care industry publication called C. William Hanke a “dermatologist’s dermatologist,” and the specialty would be hard-pressed to find a more accomplished representative. An outstanding leader, Hanke is the only dermatologist to serve as president of the American Academy of Dermatology, the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, the American College of Mohs Surgery, and the International Society for Dermatologic Surgery, among others. He has received the highest honorary award from each organization. As a faculty member at Indiana University School of Medicine, he achieved the rank of professor of dermatology, pathology and otolaryngology after only eight years. He was the first physician in the country to be awarded this triple academic rank. Hanke has been a clinical investigator on multiple research trials and has made over 400 contributions to medical literature, including 26 books.

When looking back on his time at the University of Iowa, it is an English professor, Margaret Walker Alexander, whom Hanke credits as making the greatest impression on him.

“I did not know it at the time, but she was a very famous African-American author and poet who was a PhD candidate in the Iowa Writers Workshop. She befriended me, provided encouragement, and later wrote letters of recommendation,” he says. “She commanded respect and was very respectful of the students, always addressing them by name as “Miss” or “Mr.” Professor Alexander probably had more to do with my future development than I appreciated at the time.”

Of Hanke’s many career accomplishments, his work on patient safety is one of the most significant. In the early 1990s, he volunteered to become an accreditation surveyor for the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC). He later joined the AAAHC board of directors and served as president from 2001-03. Patient safety was a mission of the AAAHC and became a fundamental priority for Hanke across the breadth of his responsibilities.

“When I became president of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) in 2008, it was logical to place patient safety on my list of priorities,” he says. “Very few specialty societies had patient safety programs at the time. The AAD patient safety program was established and continues today as an important initiative. “

Putting the patient first is at the heart of Hanke’s advice to current medical students and residents, as well.

“All of the changes that are redefining our health care system can be unnerving and distracting. Focus on the patient first. Go to the meetings of different specialties and learn from them. The most important things that physicians learn will always come from their patients,” he says.

Hanke continues to direct the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) Micrographic Surgery and Dermatologic Oncology Fellowship Training Program at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis. He also serves as a member of the ACGME Residency Review Committee (RRC) for Dermatology, which has oversight responsibility for all dermatology residency and fellowship training programs in the country. He is president-elect of the Indianapolis Medical Society.

In his spare time, Hanke is researching several of his ancestors, including Gen. Thomas Meagher, who was the founder of the Union Army Irish Brigade, and Nicolai Perrot who was governor of the Northwest Territory (Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota).