The consummate teacher

The consummate teacher

Richard Davidson retires after 30 years of service to UF

By Emily Miller

David Richardson

The smell of rubbing alcohol overwhelmed him as he walked into his father’s office. As a young boy, he would often visit his father — one of the first cardiologists in Palm Beach County — on the way to kindergarten.

With the memory of rubbing alcohol and his father as inspiration, the young boy went on to become a doctor, too.

Now, after nearly 30 years of service to the UF College of Medicine, its department of internal medicine and the Health Science Center, Richard Davidson, M.D., M.P.H., retired Nov. 1 from his position as associate vice president for interprofessional education.

“I’m going to miss the people the most,” he said. “I’ve worked with some people on this for a long, long, long time, and they’re my friends.”

Davidson joined the faculty in 1984 after being recruited from the University of North Carolina to develop a course in clinical epidemiology (evidence-based medicine), which he taught for more than 25 years. In 1997, he was appointed to a position in the dean’s office, where he, along with colleague Rhondda Waddell, Ph.D., and three committed faculty members from the colleges of Nursing and Pharmacy, developed a unique course in interprofessional education.

“We started this course because it made sense,” he said. “Now, interprofessional education has become a very big deal. It’s required for accreditation in a number of colleges.”

The program, which predated the current accreditation requirements for interprofessional education by 15 years, now involves more than 600 students and faculty from all six health colleges and the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

“We are among the leaders nationally in interprofessional education, and that can be traced directly to the support of the deans of the Health Science Center colleges and the extraordinary support we’ve received from both the current and former vice presidents for health affairs, Drs. David Guzick and Doug Barrett,” he said. “We would not be where we are today without them.”

A major interest, Davidson said, is getting students from different disciplines to work in teams.

“When I first came here, medical students never talked to nursing students and the nursing students never talked to the pharmacy students,” he said. “The goal is to graduate people who know how to communicate with other disciplines, are able to collaborate and can provide high-quality care. You practice as a team instead of as an individual.”

Davidson said the most difficult part of his career at UF has been juggling his numerous responsibilities.

During his career, he has served as chair of the Curriculum Committee in the College of Medicine, was named an alumni distinguished teaching professor, and directed the Community Health Scholars program, which places medical students in underserved rural and urban areas for summer projects. In 2006, he became director of interprofessional education for the Health Science Center. Four years later, he was appointed associate vice president for health affairs for interprofessional education.

Although the shelves in his office are mostly bare and a box of his things rests atop his desk, Davidson said he will not disappear from UF. A licensed U.S. Coast Guard captain and a member of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association, Davidson said he plans to do more fishing and hopes to try some environmental writing.

“I’m not going anywhere, and hopefully I’ll be able to contribute here,” he said.