Gustavo (Tavo) Heudebert, M.D., MACP, interim dean of the UAB School of Medicine Montgomery Regional Medical Campus, was recently selected as the recipient of the Ellen Gregg Ingalls/UAB National Alumni Society Award for Lifetime Achievement in Teaching.
The Ingalls/Alumni Award is presented annually to a full-time UAB faculty member who, throughout their career at UAB, has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to teaching. To receive the award, the faculty member must be a former recipient of the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching and have served UAB for 20 or more years as a full-time regular faculty member. It is the highest award for teaching that is presented by UAB.
Heudebert completed his medical training at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Peru, Lima in 1982. He then completed his residency at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, followed by a General Internal Medicine Fellowship at the Medical College of Wisconsin. After time spent as a faculty member at both the Medical College of Wisconsin and the University of Texas Southwestern, he was successfully recruited to UAB in 1995.
Since arriving at UAB, Heudebert has served in countless leadership roles in addition to becoming one of the School of Medicine’s most beloved clinician educators. Over the nearly 25 years that he has worked at UAB, he has held critical roles such as program director for the Internal Medicine Residency Training Program, vice chair for Education in the Department of Medicine, and associate dean for Graduate Medical Education, among many others. Currently, Heudebert serves as the interim dean of the Montgomery Regional Medical Campus.
He is widely recognized as a superb diagnostician with an encyclopedic knowledge of internal medicine. As one of his nominators explains, “During a medical student rotation on the internal medicine inpatient ward service, I observed his unrivaled wealth of medical knowledge. He is one of those rare individuals with an almost photographic memory. He uses this talent to provide excellent care to his patients and excellent learning to his students.” As another nominator put it, “Dr. Heudebert's curiosity was fierce, unapologetic and contagious, and was the force that taught each of us what it meant to love learning. He was never complacent—always reading and absorbing unique aspects from every patient experience. He was willing to learn from any member of the team, from the medical student to the senior-most resident.”
Heudebert has been recognized with an immense number of awards, accolades and memberships over the course of his career—most evidently as a clinician educator. In his time at UAB, he has been named a Top Ten Teacher in the Department of Medicine 18 times. He has also received the Tinsley Harrison Award for Best Clinical Teacher seven times, named one of the Best Doctors in America 12 times, won the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, named the Best Overall Clinical Instructor and Attending, and received the Humanism in Medicine Award.
In honor of Heudebert's contributions to teaching excellence in medical student and resident clinical education, the Department of Medicine established "The Gustavo R. Heudebert Professorship in General Internal Medicine." The Department of Medicine has trained over 1,500 residents over the past 50 years. This fully-funded endowment supports a clinician-educator in the Division of General Internal Medicine and the Tinsley Harrison Internal Medicine Residency Program.
“Being the recipient of the Ellen Gregg Ingalls/UAB National Alumni Society Award for Lifetime Achievement in Teaching is an incredible honor!” said Heudebert. “This is the most treasured award that I have ever received and certainly hope to be worthy of it in years to come. As an educator, it brings immense joy and pride to believe I have been able to contribute to the growth and development of young individuals. It is an incredible privilege to do what we do as educators and a great honor to be recognized for what we do for the love of it.”
Heudebert’s nomination packet was full of praise from individuals who learned from him as undergraduate medical students, as residents, and as colleagues. “Working with Dr. Heudebert was the best experience I had during residency,” said one of them. “He pays attention to the history and physical examination in a way that I have not seen in any other physician…From a human perspective, he was an example of compassion, care, and commitment to our patients. He is warm, gentle, gracious and has a wonderful bedside manner.”
A colleague explained, “When I think of Dr. Heudebert, I think of someone who is an inspiring leader, a masterful educator, and above all—honest. He inspires all of us at UAB to be better educators and to be better leaders because he is such a great example of both of those things.”
Selwyn Vickers, M.D., FACS, senior vice president for medicine and dean of the School of Medicine, echoed the high praise from others, “Dr. Heudebert has been a dedicated and thoughtful instructor throughout his career and is extremely deserving of the Ingalls/Alumni Award. I have a deep appreciation for his longstanding leadership in medical education both on our campus and nationally. The School of Medicine is very fortunate to have been made better by his example.”
The formal presentation of the award will be made at the annual Faculty Awards Convocation September 10, at the Hilton UAB Hotel.