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AMA Foundation Excellence in Medicine Awards

Excellence in Medicine

Excellence in Medicine Award recipients Samuel A. Cassell, MD, Deborah A. Frank, MD, and Darryl C. Hunter, MD, Colonel, USAFR, pictured with Debasish Mridha, MD, and AMA Foundation Past President Edmond Cabbabe, MD.

Every year the AMA Foundation honors a select group of physicians and medical students who exemplify the medical profession's highest values: commitment to service, community involvement, altruism, leadership and dedication to patient care. The inspirational stories of these awardees demonstrate the enormous impact that one person can have in his or her community.

The 2014 awards celebration were held on June 6, 2014, in conjunction with the 2014 AMA Annual Meeting in Chicago.

We are pleased to announce our 2014 Excellence in Medicine Award winners and the 2014 Leadership Award winners. View the video of our major award winners.

The 2014 AMA Foundation Excellence in Medicine Awards program was supported by:


Pride in the Profession Award

Aiding underserved U.S. Patients

The Pride in the Profession Awards honor physicians whose lives encompass the true spirit of being a medical professional: caring for people. By practicing medicine in areas of challenge or crisis, or by devoting their time to volunteerism or public service, these physicians serve as the voice of patients in the United States who otherwise might not be heard.

2013 Recipient : Mary Brennan Wirshup, MD, West Chester, PA

Mary Brennan Wirshup, MD, is the Vice President of Medical Affairs at Community Volunteers in Medicine (CVIM) in West Chester, Pennsylvania, a community-based nonprofit organization that provides medical and dental care to low-income, uninsured individuals.  Dr. Wirshup coordinates the efforts of approximately 150 volunteer physicians, nurses and specialists, and serves as a mentor to hundreds of pre-med and medical students that come to CVIM for highly-desired internships and clinical rotations. Her efforts helped CVIM greatly improve the effectiveness of its Diabetes Clinic and Diabetes Self-Management and Education Program. Dr. Wirshup is a Fellow of the Academy of Family Practice, and serves as a Clinical Assistant Professor of Family Practice at Temple Medical School. Dr. Wirshup was also the recipient of the 2008 Nurse Practitioner Advocate of the Year Award from the State of Pennsylvania.


To qualify, nominees must:

  • Promote the art and science of medicine and the betterment of the public health
  • Embody the values of the medical profession through leadership, service, excellence, integrity and ethical behavior
  • Enrich patients, colleagues and the community through dedicated medical practice or service
  • Offer better access to quality health care for an underserved patient population in the U.S.

A $2,500 grant will be given to the institution or organization with which the recipient works. The recipient will also receive travel expenses and accommodations to attend the Excellence in Medicine Awards ceremony.

Dr. Nathan Davis International Award in Medicine

Improving health care globally

Named for the founder of the AMA, the Dr. Nathan Davis International Award in Medicine recognizes physicians whose influence reach the international patient population and change the future of their medical care. By treating, educating and counseling patients beyond the U.S. border, the physician’s work is having a positive impact on health care in the global arena.

2013 Recipient : Mark L. Jacobson, MD, MPH, Arusha, Tanzania

Mark L. Jacobson, MD, MPH, has been building public health capacity in East Africa for more than 30 years.  Dr. Jacobson spent two decades transforming a small dispensary in the outskirts of Arusha, Tanzania into the Selian Lutheran Hospital, which now encompasses 10 buildings, 250 employees and 12 physicians. Through the Selian Hospital, Dr. Jacobson has provided care for thousands of marginalized and disabled people, as well as the nomadic Maasi people, including specialized care for women suffering from obstetric fistulas, children with orthopedic problems and individuals living with HIV/AIDS.  Dr. Jacobson developed a school for educating Assistant Medical Officers, and under his guidance scores of young doctors, nurses and techs have received training.  In 2005, Dr. Jacobson spearheaded the fundraising and planning efforts to build a second hospital, the Arusha Lutheran Medical Center, which now offers inpatient and outpatient services to Arusha’s urban population. Dr. Jacobson attended medical school at the University of Minnesota and was honored as a Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow three times over the course of his career.

2013 Recipient : Rebecca Morsch, MD, MPH, Kudjip, WHP, Papua New Guinea

Rebecca Morsch, MD, MPH, is the Director of the Community Based Health Care program of the Nazarene Health Ministry in Papua New Guinea, which trains community-chosen Community Health Volunteers and Village Birth Attendants in one of the United Nation’s designated Least Developed Countries. Dr. Morsch’s training curriculum focuses on prevention and provides culturally-sensitive health education about childbirth and childcare, hygiene, waste management, injury prevention and sexually transmitted diseases.  Dr. Morsch also helped organize Papua New Guinea’s array of community-based health organizations into the Effective Development Empowering the Nation (EDEN) Network. After working as a social worker for more than 15 years, Dr. Morsch changed course and entered medical school at the University of Kansas School of Medicine, and went on to earn a Masters of Public Health degree from Loma Linda University.

2013 Recipient : VK Raju, MD, FRCS, FACS, Morgantown, WV

VK Raju, MD, FRCS, FACS, is the Founder and Medical Director of the Eye Foundation of America (EFA), a charitable organization that provides eye care in 21 developing countries to combat avoidable childhood blindness. For more than 30 years, Dr. Raju has led the EFA in providing free and subsidized treatment in remote areas, and engaging in health education, practitioner training and research efforts that have advanced the visual health of 1.7 million people. Dr. Raju is also a Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at West Virginia University, and has lectureships in various universities across the United States.  He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons and of the American College of Surgeons, and has written more than 300 papers, 100 publications and 12 book chapters. 


To qualify, nominees must:

  • Have improved dramatically medical practice, medical education or medical research outside of the United States
  • Embody the values of the medical profession through leadership, service, excellence, integrity and ethical behavior
  • During a lifetime of service or in a current initiative, has benefited the health and well-being of a specific patient population

A $2,500 grant will be given to the institution or organization with which the recipient works.

The recipient will also receive travel expenses and accommodations to attend the Excellence in Medicine Awards ceremony.

Jack B. McConnell, MD Award for Excellence in Volunteerism

Senior physician volunteerism

The Jack B. McConnell, MD, Award for Excellence in Volunteerism recognizes the work of senior physicians who provides treatment to U.S. patients who lack access to health care. After a full career of practice, these physicians remain dedicated to the future of medicine through the spirit of volunteerism.

2013 Recipient : Matthew B. Mandel, MD, Stockbridge, MA

After retiring from a 20-year career as an Anesthesiologist, Matthew B. Mandel, MD decided to shift gears by taking a leadership role in the creation of Volunteers in Medicine Berkshires (VIM Berkshires), a free health care clinic for uninsured and underinsured low-income residents. Prior to retiring in 1997, Dr. Mandel was the Chairman of the Department of Anesthesia at Providence Hospital in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Dr. Mandel has recruited 55 volunteer doctors and clinical providers, as well as 18 off-site specialists. Today, almost 2,000 patients have received treatment at VIM Berkshires over the course of 16,000 visits, and more than 400 patients have received free specialist referrals. Dr. Mandel also serves as a trustee of several other organizations, including the Board of the Community Access to the Arts, the Stockbridge Bowl Association and the Executive Committee of the Berkshire County Medical Society.


To qualify, nominees must:

  • Have volunteered a significant portion of their medical services while over the age of 55.
  • Demonstrate their commitment to health care access by assisting underserved U.S. patients.

A $2,500 grant will be given to the institution or organization with which the recipient works.

The recipient will also receive travel expenses and accommodations to attend the Excellence in Medicine Awards ceremony.

Dr. Debasish Mridha Spirit of Medicine Award

Selfless Elimination of Human Suffering

The Dr. Debasish Mridha Spirit of Medicine Award recognizes the work of a U.S. physician who has demonstrated altruism, compassion, integrity, leadership, and personal sacrifice while providing quality health care to a destitute, distressed, or marginalized population in an impoverished community.

Learn more of the Spirit of Medicine Award.


To qualify, nominees must:

  • Have a U.S. medical license, but may practice anywhere in the world.
  • Demonstrate their commitment to health care access by assisting underserved patients and communities.

A $2,500 grant will be given to the institution or organization with which the recipient works.

The recipient will also receive travel expenses and accommodations to attend the 2014 Excellence in Medicine Awards ceremony.

Past Award Recipients

2012 Pride in the Profession Awards

Aaron Shirley, MDExternal Link
Jackson, Miss. - Jackson Medical Mall Foundation

Dr. Aaron Shirley has dedicated his career to serving the rural and urban poor throughout the Mississippi Delta. Dr. Shirley was pivotal in creating the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation in 1995, and currently serves as Chairman of the Board.  After transforming an unused space into a thriving hub of medical and economic activity, the Jackson Medical Mall is now a one-stop-shop for medical care, human services and community events. A prolific innovator, Dr. Shirley also established a school-based health clinic to provide health and counseling service, and is now working to pilot a “Health Houses” program in Mississippi modeled after a community-based rural healthcare delivery system developed in Iran.

Lorna Stuart, MDExternal Link
Phoenixville, Pa. - The Clinic

For 22 years, Dr. Lorna Stuart worked as a family physician in a private practice, but she wanted to do more for individuals who could not afford adequate treatment. After spending a year raising funds to redevelop an unused rectory, Dr. Stuart launched The Clinic: Medical Center for the Uninsured in 2002. With the support of more than 100 volunteer primary care physicians, specialists and nurses, The Clinic has become a comprehensive care center that has treated 40,000 people from at least 100 different countries. Committed to treating patients as whole beings, Dr. Stuart often uses The Clinic to connect patients with social services or donated food and household items.

2012 Dr. Nathan Davis International Award in Medicine

Nancy Hendrie, MD, FAAPExternal Link
Concord, Mass. - The Sharing Foundation

Dr. Nancy Hendrie spent more than two decades working as a Clinical Instructor at Harvard Medical School and running a private pediatrics practice before founding The Sharing Foundation. Dr. Hendrie traveled to Cambodia in 1997 where she was appalled at the lack of sanitation or care for children. Starting with only her hard work and limited personal savings, Dr. Hendrie founded The Sharing Foundation, a nonprofit organization with the mission to provide medical, educational and social support to the children of Cambodia. Today, The Sharing Foundation’s center includes an orphanage, several schools and a farm co-op. With the help of local Cambodian staff and an all-volunteer board, The Sharing Foundation serves more than 1,500 children each day.

Mark Newton, MDExternal Link
Kenya - Kijabe Hospital / Vanderbilt International Anesthesia

Dr. Mark Newton has served as the Chief Anesthesiologist at Kijabe Hospital in Kenya since 1997. In this time, Dr. Newton has worked alongside Kenyan medical staff to establish the country’s first intensive care unit, develop the country’s first nurse anesthetist training program and implement new educational programs for women and children. Dr. Newton is also an Associate Clinical Professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and the Director of the Vanderbilt International Anesthesia program.

Robert Simon, MD, FAAEMExternal Link
Richland, Mich. - International Medical Corps

Dr. Robert Simon is the founder and Chairman of International Medical Corps, a nonprofit humanitarian organization that specializes in establishing healthcare in areas of need, particularly war zones. Today International Medical Corps operates in 30 nations around the world, with a staff of 4,500 and thousands of volunteers.  Dr. Simon developed the first Advanced Medic Training program, a one-year program that prepares medics to diagnose and treat over 90% of the injuries and illnesses they will encounter in their communities. Additionally, he worked as the first Chairperson of Emergency Medicine at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital, and as the CEO of the Bureau of Health for Cook County during a period of significant financial restructuring.

2012 Jack B. McConnell, MD Award for Excellence in Volunteerism

Everett Rhoades, MD, FACPExternal Link
Oklahoma City, Okla. - Association of American Indian Physicians

Dr. Everett Rhoades is a tireless advocate for American Indian health who served as the first American Indian Director of the U.S. Indian Health Service (IHS). During the 11 years Dr. Rhoades served as IHS Director, the organization’s budget increased from $617 million to $1.85 billion, vastly improving the services available to underserved American Indians and Alaska Natives. In 1971, he established the Association of American Indian Physicians and acted as the organization’s first president. Dr. Rhoades also worked as Chief of the Infectious Disease Section at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center for 16 years, and was a founder of the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic, one of the largest urban Indian health centers in the country.

View the 30 outstanding 2012 Leadership Award recipients.

View a list of previous Pride in the Profession, Dr. Nathan Davis International and Jack B. McConnell, MD Award recipients.

View a list of previous Leadership Award recipients.

View photos and videos from past award programs on the AMA Foundation Facebook page

Leadership Awards

Developing leaders in medicine

An exceptional medical professional goes beyond the medical practice to positively influence health care. Through organized medicine and community activities, individuals from each stage of the physician lifecycle can—and do—make a difference in the quality of health care and the medical environment.

Read about the 20 medical students, residents and young physicians honored with the 2013 Leadership Awards.

The Leadership Awards are presented to approximately 30 medical students, residents/fellows and early career physicians to recognize their strong, nonclinical leadership skills in advocacy, community service and/or education.


All Leadership Awards are self-nominated, with applicants responsible for submitting all appropriate materials and documentation.

To qualify, applicants must demonstrate outstanding leadership in the areas of advocacy, community service, public health and/or education and be either:

  • A medical student enrolled in an accredited medical school
  • A resident physician enrolled in an accredited residency program, or a fellow physician enrolled in a fellowship program
  • An early-career physician under the age of 40 or in his or her first eight years of practice following residency/fellowship

Recipients will attend the Excellence in Medicine Awards ceremony. Award recipients will be invited to attend leadership development training on February 11 and 12. This training will strengthen leadership skills and result in a greater effort to advance health care in America. Airfare and lodging accommodations are provided, in addition to a nominal reimbursement to help defray travel-related costs.