David O'Dell, M.D., is inaugural Educator Laureate

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations | February 10, 2017

Image with caption: David O'Dell, M.D.

David O'Dell, M.D.

At one time, David O'Dell, M.D., wanted to be a high school teacher, but life took him in a different direction - he went to medical school and became a physician.

His career path took him to UNMC, where he was able to realize his dream of becoming a teacher. In fact, he became such a good teacher that he will be honored in a ceremony today by the Office of Academic Affairs as UNMC's first Educator Laureate.

A commitment to education has always marked Dr. O'Dell's career. In fact, after starting his residency in family medicine, he switched to internal medicine in part because, when he was looking at who had the biggest impact on the education of students and residents, he felt that the internist clearly had the more prominent role.

"I had the opportunity to serve as chief resident here at the university, and that was kind of a nice way of seguing into an academic career," he said. "I started to collect cases and case descriptions, all of which helped me build up my teaching files, if you will, in terms of getting a chance to really use those experiences to help the students and residents."

For 27 years, Dr. O'Dell has collaborated with Michael Sitorius, M.D., on a nationally recognized and unique joint training program combining internal medicine and family medicine for primary care residents.

"It's a novel effort to train primary care physicians to meet the needs of non-metropolitan and underserved Nebraska," he said.

Dr. O'Dell is the LeeRoy Meyer Professor of Medicine, a professorship named for LeeRoy Meyer, M.D., a beloved UNMC educator who asked Dr. O'Dell to help with the junior clerkship only a few years after he joined the faculty at UNMC. Dr. O'Dell still remembers Dr. Meyer, who died in 2005, as an inspiration.

"Dr. Meyer was a wonderful educator, a true legend," he said.

The two ran the senior elective until Dr. Meyer's death.

"When he passed in 2005, I did something a little unusual for a more senior physician," Dr. O'Dell said. "I stepped back into the classroom, rather than away from it. I became more involved in the junior clerkship in 2005.

"I am honored by this award but really want to emphasize that it has truly been a team effort, and I have been privileged to work with many very dedicated educators here at UNMC."

In a letter of support for the award, Dr. Sitorius said Dr. O'Dell "has remained innovative, challenging yet supportive and committed to educating all learners. He has high expectations of both himself and his learners and delivers on those expectations in his approaches to education."


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Joy Terkelsen Kroll
February 15, 2017 at 9:07 PM

Congratulations Dave!!!!

Margaret Shepard
February 15, 2017 at 3:35 PM

Congratulations Dave, those O'Dell's are great physicians!

Scott P Benson
February 10, 2017 at 10:10 PM

Congratulations Dave!

Kiran Gangahar
February 10, 2017 at 7:31 PM

Congratulations, Dave.... Well deserved recognition for all your years Of service!!

James Newland
February 10, 2017 at 4:42 PM

Wonderful, Dave! Congrats