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J. Kevin Dorsey

Education Excellence

J. Kevin Dorsey

81R, 83F – Internal Medicine

The word “doctor” is derived from the Latin word docere, which means “to teach.” For several decades, J. Kevin Dorsey has been committed to educational improvements, with notable accomplishments in care practices and community service as well as in academic medicine. Dorsey has served in key roles in academic medicine since completing his residency and fellowship at the University of Iowa, including as dean and provost of the Southern Illinois University (SIU) School of Medicine. He stepped down as dean in 2015 and currently maintains a teaching position at the SIU medical school, and serves as acting chief of the rheumatology division. Students and faculty have recognized him with many citations and awards for his sustaining and remarkable instructional contributions.

As a longtime educator, Dorsey understands the importance of a student’s peers to his or her medical school experience. He credits his own peers at the UI College of Medicine for merging his medical competence with his confidence.

“My fellow residents made the biggest impression on me,” he says. “There was a group of four couples and we had a rotating dinner. We had terrific bonds and still keep in touch.”

Dorsey recalls how he and fellow third-year resident, Dennis Gastineau (now chair of hematology at the Mayo Clinic) wandered around the hospital in search of sick patients when they were on call.

“I remember feeling that we had arrived. We were competent, and we could do this,” he says.

Of course, there were faculty members who played a significant role in Dorsey’s education, as well.

“Robert C. Hardin, MD, was attending on wards when I was a resident. He was such a calm, quiet man who could sit with a patient like they’d grown up on the farm together, “ he says. “Paul Strottmann, MD, was the rheumatologist all the rheumatology fellows wanted to become, and he never made me feel like less than an equal. The nature of the UI and its culture is all about caring for students and residents.”

When nominating Dorsey for this award, his peers commented on his decades of achievement as a teacher, scholar, and leader. Without exception, they describe him as kind and compassionate as the faculty he so admired at the UI.

“Kevin is a humble, kind, and insightful caregiver who creates strong bonds with patients and mentees, which is a very effective complement to his scholarly gravitas. His sustaining commitment to educational improvements and his impactful accomplishments in academic medicine, care practices, and community service over five decades are compelling. His professional and personal life is a testament to a career which continues to be well spent in the enrichment of others,” says Timothy R. Franson, MD, R’81, chief medical officer of YourEncore.

Dorsey is steadfast in his mission to keep humanity in health care.

“Electronic health records are here to stay,” he says. “But we need to not sterilize ourselves with the medium we’re using and still make sure we’re communicating about patients. It’s the ‘real person’ encounters that lead to human connections.”