June 20, 2023

Remembering the impact of Shawn Harmon, M.D., Ph.D.

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shawn harmon thumbnailIt is with great sadness that the Department of Medical Education mourns the loss of Shawn Harmon, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Pediatrics Clerkship Director on the Montgomery campus. A celebration of life service was held on Saturday, June 17, 2023, at the Life of Faith Church in Birmingham in his honor. He is survived by his wife, Melanie, and daughter, Niah.

Dr. Harmon’s connection to Heersink School of Medicine dates back to completing medical school and residency at UAB before becoming an educator for the school himself. He leaves behind a memory and impact on his colleagues that cannot be forgotten. He is remembered as an “incredible physician and educator” who emphasized compassion and kindness when treating his patients. He also prioritized student education with a commitment to positivity and integrity.

Since 2019, Dr. Harmon served as the Pediatrics Clerkship Director on the Montgomery campus while also devoting time and energy as a member of the Medical Education Committee (MEC). “Dr. Harmon was an intellectually gifted individual who was a skilled and compassionate physician,” says Lou Lambiase, M.D., MHA, Regional Dean of the Montgomery Regional Medical Campus. “He was a champion for the care of the neglected and underserved. He was also a passionate, meticulous, and driven educator who made the education of the next generation of physicians a top priority. His is a great loss for the Montgomery Regional Campus and the Heersink School of Medicine. He will be greatly missed.”

A primary focus throughout Dr. Harmon’s career was helping Montgomery area underserved and underinsured children and their families, working at Gateway Family Health, a Federally Qualified Health Center in Montgomery. Hussein Latif, M.D., Pediatrics Clerkship Director on the Birmingham campus, fondly remembers his fellow director: “Dr. Harmon was always a deep thinker--very respectful of everybody, open to different ways of thinking. He was deeply spiritual. Had a big commitment to providing care to people who needed it the most.”

Heather Taylor, M.D., Pediatrics Clerkship Director on the Tuscaloosa campus, mentions that Dr. Harmon was “dedicated, compassionate, and had no ego. Worked incredibly hard with clinical responsibilities and made time to work on student stuff in his free time. Never complained. He cared about the right things: ‘How is what we’re doing going to help our students be better doctors and take better care of folks?’ He’d center all discussions on that, keep that as the guidepost of the discussion, and then gently work through the logistics.”

Dr. Harmon’s impact did not just extend to his colleagues; he also leaves a lasting positive effect on the careers and lives of his students. All students on the Montgomery campus spent eight weeks in the Pediatrics Clerkship learning from a system Dr. Harmon carefully helped to craft to make each student the best doctor they can be. Within his student evaluations, Dr. Harmon is described as “an excellent model of character, professionalism, and integrity” and as a role model who goes “the extra mile for his patients.”

“Dr. Harmon truly cared about my educational experience,” one evaluation notes. “It was evident he wanted me to be the best physician possible. He is incredibly intelligent and challenged me every day to improve.” Another evaluation mentions, “I not only felt like a valued member of the clinical team, but always felt that Dr. Harmon prioritized my education.”

In remembrance of Dr. Harmon’s contributions to Heersink School of Medicine, James Willig, M.D., Assistant Dean of Clinical Education, says, “We are all grateful for you, Shawn. Thank you for all you have done. Your impact on our school, on your peers, and on your students has been profound and as a testament to your skill as an educator, you have made us all better.”

The Department of Medical Education and Heersink School of Medicine extend our thoughts and support to Dr. Harmon’s family during this time. His colleagues and students will forever be thankful for his dedication to the medical field and his impact on the lives of those around him.