The Beyond Flexner Alliance was saddened to hear of the recent death of H. Jack Geiger, MD. Dr. Geiger was the inaugural recipient of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation award for his lifetime of work in health, poverty and civil rights including marching with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. Geiger was a founding member of Physicians for Human Rights which won a Nobel prize in 1985, and was considered the Father of Community Health Centers in America.
A clinician, an educator, a humanitarian, a change agent, and a human rights advocate, Dr. Geiger was the embodiment of compassion with an unwavering commitment to improve the health outcomes and well-being of underserved populations in the U.S. and worldwide. Through his actions, Dr. Geiger demonstrated why medicine must address the relationship of health, poverty, and human rights.
Dr. Geiger was a dear friend and mentor to our founder, Dr. Fitzhugh Mullan and had an enormous impact on the founding of the Beyond Flexner Alliance. He attended, and spoke at, our first three conferences, and was often found spending time speaking with students one-on-one during any breaks. He was a giant and will be dearly missed by our organization.
Dr. Geiger shared his insights on social mission, BFA, and reflected on some of his life in this video with us in 2015.
Claire Pomeroy is the chair of the Awards Committee for the Macy Awards and is President of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation.
My new patient sat in the clinic waiting room with a bandana covering his face, but when he turned, the cloth slipped and revealed the purple splotches. It was the early years of AIDS and I knew that I had no medicines to prescribe for his Kaposi’s sarcoma and little that would change the course of his fatal illness. But he taught me that there was much more than that to caring—he needed help with getting food and paying his rent, he wanted to find other patients with whom he could talk about HIV, and he wanted someone to fight for better policies to address the spreading epidemic. His requests taught me about the social mission that is such a critical part of being a health professional truly committed to healing.
Thirty years later, the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation has stepped up to sponsor a special awards program dedicated to celebrating leaders who have advanced the social mission of our profession. Joining forces with the Beyond Flexner Alliance, the Macy Foundation’s Awards for Excellence in Social Mission in Health Professions Education provide each of us the opportunity to recognize the work of our colleagues who are at the forefront of advancing social mission in health professions education. Social mission is defined as activities that teach, model, or improve community engagement, diversity, health equity, disparities reduction, value-based care, or engagement with the social determinants of health. The winners are recognized at an inspiring event at the Beyond Flexner Alliance Conference which includes a video of each winner’s accomplishments.