FSU MED Magazine Fall 2020, Vol. 16 Fall 2020 - Page 19

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IMYRA BY RON HARTUNG

n the same year that the College of Medicine is marking its 20 th anniversary , it ’ s also celebrating the achievements of the person most responsible for its existence . Myra M . Hurt , Ph . D ., famed for her big-impact ideas and her “ Failure is not an option ” approach to obstacles , retired in June . Myra : The first name alone is enough to thrill her fans and to frighten those who ’ ve challenged her in academic battles … and lost . Only a pandemic was powerful enough to undo the big to-do that had been planned for her retirement : a “ high table ” gala at the Alumni Center , with a who ’ s who of academic heavyweights from across the campus and the country . Despite the delay , the college still got to celebrate the Hurt years in style . A brand-new Founders Wall in the atrium tells the story of how Hurt , legislator Durell Peaden and super-lawyer Sandy D ’ Alemberte joined forces to establish the College of Medicine at a time when the national experts mistakenly thought no new med schools were needed . Also part of the tribute was the James D . Westcott Distinguished Service Medal . It ’ s such a high honor that it has been bestowed only nine times in the university ’ s history – and not at all since 2009 . But on Sept . 2 , the medal went to Myra M . Hurt . “ It is a rare and extraordinary recognition that is presented only to the most extraordinary individuals ,” FSU President John Thrasher said . “ Myra Hurt is one of those exceptional people . Her life and work exemplify the university ’ s highest ideals , and her distinguished service will have a lasting and enduring impact on Florida
State University and the College of Medicine .” Watch the ceremony at med . fsu . edu / myra And then there was the unveiling of Hurt ’ s new book , “ Breaking the Mold : The Academic Pioneers Who Bucked Conventional Wisdom to Create the Florida State University College of Medicine .” Originally the book was going to have a triple byline : Hurt , D ’ Alemberte and Peaden . But as she wrote in the dedication : “ To the two men who were supposed to write this book with me . That ’ s what we had planned – but death took them from us too soon .” Hurt ’ s voice remains as a strong advocate for a medical school built differently than most any other before it , and committed to producing the physicians who will reflect the diversity of the communities they serve . The idea is getting more attention with the events of 2020 . Hurt was dogged in pursuit of that idea going back to the early 1990s , when she commissioned the building of a pipeline program ( SSTRIDE ) that would bring more students from underrepresented backgrounds into medical school – and the physician workforce . “ While battling through the dark days seeking accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education , she rallied the students with this feisty vow : ‘ We are going to kick the LCME ’ s ass !’ And because we did , her new paradigm for medical education is producing the kinds of physicians that Floridians need ,” said Helen Livington , retired associate dean for undergraduate and graduate programs , in the preface to Hurt ’ s book .
‘ IT TAKES EVERYTHING YOU HAVE ’ Myra Hurt on the challenges of creating a new medical school ( Excerpted from the preface of her new book , “ Breaking the Mold : The Academic Pioneers Who Bucked Conventional Wisdom to Create the Florida State University College of Medicine ”) … Those [ shoestring-budget days of getting the new medical school up and running ] were thrilling times . But every time someone tells me , “ Gee , that sounds so exciting !” – I respond that excitement is often overrated . I ’ ve had enough excitement to last me several lifetimes . I couldn ’ t be prouder of this college and of the people who worked tirelessly with me to create it . And writing this book has brought back a flood of golden memories . Yet , to be honest , it also has reminded me of how incredibly difficult it was not just to give birth to this school but , more so , to drag the LCME accreditors kicking and screaming into the 21 st century . Some years after the College of Medicine was born , I was invited to create a new medical school at another university . “ No ,” I said , “ it ’ s too hard . You ’ ve got to put your whole heart and soul into it . It takes everything you have . It was worth everything I had , but just once . Not again .” The sad truth is that it shouldn ’ t have been so hard . The LCME reviewers made it that way . They fought us every inch of the way . After we were denied initial provisional accreditation , I told our students not to worry . But to myself I was saying : “ When I think how hard this is going to be , it takes my breath away .” It was 18- hour days , day after day after week after week after week . It was worth it but , my God , it was so hard ….

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