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Family Practice Makes Perfect

October 2004


He makes house calls to a 102-year-old patient and believes that a good bedside manner is still a vital element of providing good health care.

For Dr. Michael Gimbel II '70, taking this patient-centric philosophy to heart has led to his recognition as the 2003 Iowa Family Physician of the Year by the Iowa Academy of Family Physicians.

The award is presented to the outstanding physician in the state who best exemplifies the tradition of the family doctor and who epitomizes the finest standards of family health care. With the honor, Gimbel becomes Iowa's nominee to the American Academy of Family Physicians for the 2004 National Family Physician of the Year.

Though honored and humbled by the award, Gimbel says it is icing on the cake. "I love what I do and am rewarded each time a patient leaves my office in good health."

Because family physicians are trained in many areas of medicine-pediatrics, geriatrics, internal medicine, psychiatry, surgery, obstetrics, gynecology and community medicine-they are capable of caring for more than 85 percent of the illnesses and emergencies that fall within the family care spectrum. "We are also fortunate to have in this area many excellent sub-specialists who share the goal of the patient's ultimate return to good health and well-being," Gimbel says.

According to the AAFP, less than 10 percent of US medical school graduates choose family medicine, a decline of nearly 50 percent since 1997.

"The sub-specialties are vast, and we need people to focus on specific cancers, illnesses and diseases," explains Gimbel. "But we also need physicians to focus on the individual and work with the whole person, which is what I do."

Following in the footsteps of his father, Dr. Michael Gimbel '42, the younger Gimbel found that St. Ambrose's liberal arts education especially helped prepare him for life as a family practitioner. Patience, an attention to detail, careful planning and an appreciation for the human condition were a few of the qualities he learned to value, he says.

"Professor Mary Vinje and Father Carl Rice were a big part of my life and gave me more than enough knowledge and enrichment to send me on to medical school with an excellent promise to be the best physician I could be," he says.

The Gimbel family legacy runs even deeper at St. Ambrose: brother James Gimbel DDS '78, and daughters Maggie Gimbel DDS '99 and Katie Gimbel '03, currently a medical student at the University of Iowa, share the same appreciation for their Ambrose experience.

"I know we all feel like we got a great start to very promising futures from the dedicated faculty and staff at St. Ambrose," Gimbel says.

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