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portrait of Christine Todd
portrait of Eliza Davis Blanchette
portrait of John Mellinger
portrait of Ron Browning

June 7, 2012

Faculty and Student Receive Humanism, Teaching Awards

Several honors have been announced this spring at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield.

A faculty member and graduating senior were named recipients of the 2012 Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award presented during commencement ceremonies May 19. Dr. Christine Todd, associate professor of internal medicine, and Dr. Eliza Davis Blanchette, a 2012 graduate of SIU School of Medicine from Springfield were recognized as individuals who demonstrate compassion, respect for patients and families, and clinical excellence. The award is sponsored by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.

Among Todd’s contributions, she developed a curriculum in Visual Literacy Training, a process that teaches humanist qualities to medical trainees through reflection on fine art. The student who nominated her for the award noted Todd’s enthusiasm for teaching and dedication to patient care. “I was very impressed with her caring and compassion when it came to patient care. She always had the patient’s best interest at heart.”

Todd directs SIU’s hospitalist program and is an alumnus of the SIU School of Medicine Class of 1993. She is an associate program director for the internal medicine residency program. Todd is a member of the Student Progress Committee and is cross appointed in the Department of Medical Humanities. Her professional interests include improving communication skills in resident physicians and improving transfers of care. 

She completed an internal medicine residency and chief residency at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio (1997). She earned her bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature at the University of Chicago (1989). She joined SIU in 2000.

Blanchette will begin a pediatrics residency training program in July at University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison, Wis. Among her many community activities, Blanchette has volunteered at homeless shelters and organized and staffed a free clinic. She also volunteered at elementary school health fairs and mentored students at Enos Elementary School.

A classmate nominating Blanchette said, “There is no time clock for Eliza Davis Blanchette; she will forego sleeping, eating, and time with her own family members to ensure the comfort and safety of her patients. She will surely become a top notch pediatrician and is someone who I would be fortunate to have care for my own children.”

Blanchette has served as class representative and a member of the Student Assembly, president of the local chapter of the American Medical Association and volunteered with its Medical Student Section. 

She is the daughter of John-Andrew Davis and Katherine Davis, both of Springfield and is married to Dr. Thomas Blanchette from Kankakee, who also was in the graduating class. She is a graduate of Sacred Heart-Griffin High School (2003) and Washington University in St. Louis, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in biology and political science (2007).

Dr. John D. Mellinger, professor and chair of the general surgery division, received the Golden Apple Award for outstanding teaching from the graduating class. Mellinger is the residency program director of general surgery, with a specialty in gastrointestinal and endoscopic surgery. He   completed a fellowship in surgical endoscopy at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, Cleveland, Ohio (1990). He completed his general surgery residency at Blodgett Memorial Medical Center/St. Mary’s Hospital/Michigan State University (1989). He earned his medical degree at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland (1984).

The class previously honored Dr. Ron Browning, professor emeritus of physiology, as the Carbondale Teacher of the Year for his efforts during their first year.

The graduates also honored two faculty members with roles during the commencement ceremony.  Dr. J. Kevin Dorsey, dean and provost, read the Hippocratic Oath. Dr. Gary L. Dunnington, professor and chair of surgery, hooded the graduates.

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