Alan Rubin, M.D., (right), associate professor of medicine and psychiatry, stands with a Greater Burlington Y staff member at the organization's Burlington facility. (Photo courtesy of Greater Burlington Y)
Faculty, staff, students, alumni, friends, and family gathered virtually March 12 to celebrate Alan Rubin, M.D., associate professor of medicine and psychiatry, whose 46-year-long career at the University of Vermont has touched thousands of lives.
Serving as a clinician, teacher, and mentor over the past nearly five decades, Rubin developed an extensive following through the deep connections he forged with his patients, students, and colleagues.
“You are a special human and soul,” said Class of 2022 medical student Jose Calderon, aptly summing up the core reason underlying Rubin’s many fans, and a sentiment echoed in dozens of remarks shared in writing and verbally in conjunction with Rubin’s retirement event.
A graduate of the New York University School of Medicine, Rubin joined the UVM faculty and former Medical Center Hospital of Vermont in 1974, practicing as an internist at Given Health Care, now Adult Primary Care, in Burlington. His work has included directing the “Doctoring Skills” curriculum in the “Foundations of Clinical Science” course in the Vermont Integrated Curriculum (VIC), serving as Clinical and Translational Science (CTS) graduate program director and teaching CTS classes, including “Cell and Society,” teaching UVM Honors College classes, and co-leading healthcare communications skills workshops and a workshop on reverse role-play as a teaching and remediation tool at the International Conference on Communication in Health Care with Richard Pinckney, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of medicine.
Starting in the early 2000s when the VIC was being finalized, Cate Nicholas, Ed.D., M.S., P.A., director of simulation education and operations, began collaborating with Rubin to create a series of performance-based skills training and assessments in conjunction with Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) recommendations.
“Alan brought his own practice philosophy and communications skills to the table – and also was trained by and developed relationships with the top experts in patient-centered interviewing skills – and I brought my Standardized Patient education expertise and together, we created the doctoring skills education program,” says Nicholas. The two faculty members, as well as Shirley McAdam, Standardized Patient educator, have met regularly to keep the doctoring skills curriculum up to date for nearly 20 years.
Rubin has been a generous teacher and mentor for his colleagues. At the January 2021 Teaching Academy Snow Season Education Retreat, he co-presented several sessions on "Teaching Clinical Reasoning in the Classroom and in the Clinic" with former Doctoring in Vermont course director Dennis Beatty, M.D., and was honored with the Teaching Academy’s Distinguished Service Award.
“I will never forget how Dr. Rubin warmly welcomed me into the medical school community,” says David Harari, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and a 2015 Larner College of Medicine alum. “He is the epitome of warmth, sincerity, and altruism and has served as a true role model for countless doctors, demonstrating what humanity in medicine ought to look like.”
A passionate and caring mentor, Rubin has worked with undergraduates, medical students, graduate students, residents, fellows, and Standardized Patients and educators and his impact has played a critical role in the lives and careers of many of them.
Class of 2012 alum and Assistant Professor of Medicine Rachel McEntee, M.D., wrote to Rubin, “You played a formative role in my medical education and have been an amazing role model for what it means to practice humanism in medicine. I will never forget how eye opening the first session we had together in Hall A was, when you simulated a patient interaction with the chief complaint of big toe pain. That experience set me on a career-long path of providing patient- and family-centered care as well as to my strong belief in simulation as the most powerful didactic tool we have in medical education.”
Additional awards received by Rubin over the past 30 years include the 1994 Vermont Medical Society Community Service Award; 1996 and 2005 UVM Department of Psychiatry Teacher of the Year Award; 2000 New Jersey Health Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award; 2002 Alpha Omega Alpha Honors Society; and 2011 UVM Health Network Medical Group Graduate Medical Education Teacher of the Year Award.
Speakers at the March 12 event included Benjamin Littenberg, M.D., Tufo Professor of Medicine and director of General Internal Medicine Research, Larner College of Medicine Dean Richard L. Page, M.D., E.L. Amidon Chair of Medicine Polly Parsons, M.D., and Pinckney.