Harris, Vogelgesang receive top honors from Iowa ACP

Though meeting only virtually, unlike in years past, the Iowa Chapter of the American College of Physicians delivered two distinct honors among its other chapter business.

The first, the 2020 Laureate Award, was presented to Katherine Harris, MD, FACP, Clinical Professor and Associate Program Director of the Internal Medicine Residency. The Laureate Award honors ACP Fellows “who have demonstrated, by their example and conduct, an abiding commitment to excellence in medical care, education, or research and in service to their community, their Chapter, and the American College of Physicians.” In addition, the recipient is recognized as “an experienced physician . . . with peer approval in the field of internal medicine.”

In her prepared remarks, Harris thanked the chapter for the award, noting her surprise and honor. She also expressed “gratitude for all of those who have helped me along my path to where I am now.” She went on to describe how each member of her family, her physician father and laboratory technician mother especially, for their support and guidance toward her career in medicine.

She continued:

Since starting my career at the University of Iowa in medical school, I have constantly been supported and welcomed by the Internal Medicine faculty. As a medical student, I was inspired by two women faculty–Drs. Christie Reimer and Christine Schwab. At a time when I struggled to determine where I “fit” in medicine, they showed me the way. When I returned to Iowa following my residency, I joined an amazing group of physician educators who have pushed me to improve my practice in patient care, education and research. Dr. Vogelgesang took a chance on me by bringing me into the Internal Medicine Residency Program and Dr. Suneja has allowed me to continue in this role that has brought great joy to life. I have been able to work with medical students and residents for the past 10 years who have taught me more than I could have imagined. Dr. Gwen Beck has been my guide in every realm of my career and my life and I can’t thank her enough for her support and friendship.

My last thank you is to my husband, Mike, who has been my best friend and teammate since we were 16 years old and has made this journey better than I ever would have hoped. He has always helped me figure out the best direction to go, whether that be in my career, our home life, or on our many road trips where I occasionally miss the exits. We have had the three greatest blessings in our life, Conor, Claire, and Charlie, and have worked hard to be loving and supportive parents while being dedicated to our professional callings. Thank you for being you, Mike. I couldn’t ask for more.

The other award, the 2020 Excellence Award, was presented to Scott Vogelgesang, MD, MACP, FACR, Clinical Professor and Director of the Division of Immunology. The Excellence Award is “a mark of honor and recognition for achievement of a senior physician . . . who has made major contributions to medicine in internal medicine in the State of Iowa.”

In his prepared remarks, Vogelgesang described how his relationship with ACP changed over time. “It wasn’t until I was privileged to represent the Iowa Chapter as Governor that I began to realize the incredible impact ACP provides, ranging from advocating for legislation that improves the health of Americans, to policies and programs that supports the difficult but important work of being a physician. A colleague and former Governor of the Iowa ACP once said and I’ll paraphrase, ‘I wish I could communicate all I now know about ACP to my junior colleagues. Think what they could do if they fully understood the extent of this outstanding organization and the opportunities at their fingertips. …and yet, there is still much to do.”

As he described his path to Iowa and the importance his family has played throughout his life, Vogelgesang also discussed the role music has played for him.

Outside of medicine I enjoy sailing which Deb also enjoys, and playing music on my trumpet which Deb appreciates less, particularly when I am practicing in the basement. Intellectually she understands how music is a release and challenge for me and frequently asks why I keep practicing.It reminds me of a quote attributed to Pablo Casals, the famous cellist; he was asked why he continued to practice at least 4-5 hours daily when he was already so accomplished. He reportedly said “…I am making daily progress…” Well, I am not so accomplished on the trumpet, but I am making daily progress…not only in music but in all my endeavors. There is still much to do. 

I am grateful to the ACP, my colleagues, my mentors, the patients/people I’ve been blessed to take care of and my family for the help, support and opportunities (for improvement). I am indeed lucky and grateful.

But this was not the only recognition Vogelgesang received that evening. Chapter Governor William Yost, MD, also presented him with the title of Mastership, a nearly 100-year-old title. The bylaws dictate that it be reserved only for those because of “integrity, positions of honor, impact in practice or in medical research, or other attainments in science or in the art of medicine.” Vogelgesang joins just a handful of other department members to achieve this rare distinction. They include:

Willis M. Fowler
William B. Bean
Elmer Louis De Gowin
James A. Clifton
Lewis E. January
François M. Abboud
Janet A. Schlechte
Richard F. LeBlond
C. Patrick Burns
John F. Fieselmann
Donald D. Brown

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