Lucky and good
A ‘mother’ of emergency medicine retires after 30 years in Jacksonville
By April Frawley Birdwell
After graduating from medical school at the University of Iowa in 1973, Ann Harwood-Nuss, M.D., left for Michigan to begin her residency training. It was a move that would change the trajectory of her career.
Although she was a resident in surgery and urology, she spent part of her time moonlighting in the Emergency Room. She loved the pace and the challenges. Every case was different from the next.
“For whatever reason, the Midwest had the majority of early leaders in emergency medicine, and I had some good fortune in moonlighting with some of the first presidents of the board of emergency medicine and the American College of Emergency Physicians,” said Harwood-Nuss. “I was in the right place at the right time, because I had fantastic mentors in Michigan. Better lucky than good.”
Though she was already four years into her specialty training in surgery and urology, Harwood-Nuss switched her focus to the fledgling field of emergency medicine, helping to establish one of the first residencies in the new field at Michigan State University/Butterworth Hospital.
“It was absolutely the right choice,” she said. “I have no regrets.”
After a year at the University of Chicago as the residency director, she would make another move that would change the course of her life — to UF’s Jacksonville campus to lead the division of emergency medicine and help build up its bourgeoning residency program.
Thirty years, numerous appointments and accomplishments later, Harwood-Nuss officially retired in June and was appointed a professor emeritus of emergency medicine for the College of Medicine-Jacksonville.
“She was responsible for building and developing the department (of emergency medicine) into a high-performing academic unit staffed with outstanding clinicians and teachers. This was a pioneering role that required vision and tenacity but one she met with great success,” wrote David J. Vukich, M.D., chair of emergency medicine, in a letter recommending Harwood-Nuss for the designation of professor emeritus. “Her ability to bring people together and her passion for academic education has kept the College of Medicine-Jacksonville on the leading edge of education and patient care.”
Harwood-Nuss, whose role model has always been her father, also a doctor and now 93, has spent much of her career focused on education, serving as director of graduate medical education for 12 years and as an associate dean of educational affairs for the College of Medicine-Jacksonville.
But she’s also found ways to pair medicine with another of her passions — writing. Harwood-Nuss has served as editor of more than a dozen textbooks, including the highly regarded Harwood-Nuss’ Clinical Practice of Emergency Medicine.
And over the past decade, she has been working with Web developers and IT experts to improve the Health Science Center-Jacksonville’s Web presence. Under her guidance, the college established Web resources for faculty and prospective residents and developed a centrally operated faculty database.
“I feel like I have been so fortunate to have landed in a place that had so many dedicated, talented people,” Harwood-Nuss says of the Jacksonville campus. “It has not always been an easy place to work, there were some grim financial times. (But) I always felt like we were doing so much good for our patients and our educational mission. I have loved every aspect of my career at UF.”