Wednesday, April 11, 2012

With Warner Slack and his students

For several years running, I have been invited to present at a class at Harvard called "The Quality of Health Care in America."  Professor Warner Slack is currently in charge of the class, but in previous years he was joined by other health care luminaries in Boston:  Don Berwick, David Blumenthal, and Howard Hiatt.  For those readers not familiar with Warner, I point out that for over 40 years he has been a leader in the use of computers to improve communication, and specifically to empower both patients and doctors to deliver better health care.  (Check this CV if you have any doubts!)

I need to be a little careful -- but not too careful! -- when I say that Warner is unusual in the Boston medical establishment in his modesty, his respectfulness of others, his candor, and his gentleness.  I stereotypically attribute that to his training in the Midwest.

But whatever the reason, it is always a privilege to be asked to join his class of undergraduates.  As usual, I promised students that their pictures might show up on this blog if they asked a particularly good question or gave an incisive answer.  You see some of those students here.

By the way, you might find it interesting to learn that, if you are appointed full professor at Harvard, and you do not have a degree from Harvard, you are granted an honorary master's degree from the school. Really. Check Warner's CV to see that this is so. It is as if (1) such an honorary degree has any meaning, and (2) that it is somehow a necessary condition to join the pantheon of Harvard professors.  I guess his Princeton and Columbia degrees just didn't make the grade.

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