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Faculty Focus: Eric Epping, MD, PhD

Date: Monday, August 20, 2018

Eric Epping, MD, PhDWhat is your hometown?

Cedar Rapids, IA

How/when did you become interested in science and/or medicine?

I began to consider a career in medicine in junior high school. I was already thinking that medicine would be a great opportunity to combine my desire to serve others and continuously learn (and that is still true for me today). I do not have a medical family, but my father is an accountant who worked with physicians in the area when I was growing up, so I was able to meet many physicians and learn about a career in medicine.

When did you join the University of Iowa faculty?


How or why did you choose to join the faculty at the University of Iowa?

I have been at the University of Iowa since 1990 when I started college. It was not my plan to do all my training at the University and eventually join the faculty, but at every step of my education and career I thought that there were new worthwhile opportunities for me to pursue at Iowa. The other critical factor are the people I work with, and I have been very fortunate to have so many colleagues and co-workers who are ultimately the most important reason I have remained at Iowa.

Is there a teacher or mentor who helped shape your career?

I have had many faculty over the years at the University who have been instrumental in supporting my career development. Most recently the faculty who I trained with and are now my colleagues in the Department of Psychiatry and the CCOM faculty who have contributed to my development as a medical educator have been and remain important influences.

How do you see your faculty role impacting medicine and/or science?

As a course director in the Medicine and Society strand for all medical and physician assistant students, I hope that I will have some impact on our future medical providers and that I can pass on the same enthusiasm I have for learning, especially about areas in medicine beyond the traditional basic sciences and clinical skills. I would also like to contribute to improving medical education not only for our own students, but also beyond the University through dissemination of the new curriculum we have developed in the Carver College of Medicine. I’m also the faculty advisor to the Psychiatry Interest Group, and this is also an important opportunity to promote psychiatry as a career and work with students interested in the specialty.

What is the biggest change you've experienced in your field since you were a student?

Technology is the one area that I have seen contribute to significant changes in both the practice of medicine and medical education. We are still in the process of figuring out how we can most efficiency take advance of technology in these areas. There remain some unintended negative effects such as the amount of time required to complete documentation in the electronic medical record. I am optimistic that these problems will be solved as there are many good people working on this, including at our own institution.

What one piece of advice would you give to today's students?

I would advise students that there are so many opportunities in medicine, and that you can do many different things during your career, regardless of your specialty.

In what ways are you engaged in professional activities outside the University (i.e. population based research, mentoring high school students, sharing your leadership/ expertise with organizations or causes, speaking engagement off campus, etc.)?

For several years I had previously volunteered at the Free Mental Health Clinic in Iowa City with our medical students. I have taken some time off from this activity, but this reminds me that I need to sign up for it again.

What are some of your outside (personal) interests?

My daughters have been involved in dance and other performing arts, and my own personal interests include music, history, architecture and travel. My favorite architect is Frank Lloyd Wright, and I have taken my family across the country to see buildings he designed, and most recently to an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York for the 150th anniversary of his birth. My kids don’t (yet) share the same enthusiasm I do for Wright, but they did enjoy going to some Broadway shows while we were in New York.