By Bernard S. Little, Journal Staff WriterApril 12, 2013
Col. (Dr.) Craig Shriver wears many hats at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) -- chief of general surgery service, director of the John P. Murtha Cancer Center, professor of surgery at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU), and director of the National Capital Consortium's General Surgery Residency Training Program.
It is for the latter Shriver was recently presented the 2013 Parker J. Palmer Courage to Teach Award. The award, created in 2002 by the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), is presented annually to honor directors of medical residency programs that exemplify patient-centered professionalism in medical education. Shriver received the award March 1 in Orlando, Fla., during the ACGME's Annual Education Conference.
ACGME's Parker J. Palmer Courage to Teach Award salutes program directors "who find innovative ways to teach residents and to provide quality health care while remaining connected to the initial impulse to care for others in this environment," explained Army Col. Clifton E. Yu, chief of GME at WRNMMC. The ACGME is also responsible for accrediting the majority of GME training programs (internships, residencies and fellowships) for physicians in the United States. Its Courage to Teach Award is named for Parker J. Palmer, an educator, activist and author of the book, "The Courage to Teach," which promotes close collaboration among professional colleagues and the concept of "living divided no more," Yu added.
A native of Reading, Pa., Shriver earned his medical degree from Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, before he was commissioned in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, and completed his general surgery internship and residency at the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC). He was selected for advanced fellowship training in surgical oncology at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
"I knew I wanted to make an impact as a cancer surgeon," Shriver explained. "There was a lot we didn't know about cancer in general. Considering breast cancer is and has been the most common cancer amongst women, I felt early in my career that's an area where I could make a difference."
In 1998, Shriver became program director of WRAMC's general surgery residency program, and remained in that role when WRAMC integrated with the former National Naval Medical Center to form WRNMMC in the fall of 2011.
The doctor has completed four combat tours, including two in Afghanistan, and has led his surgeons in the treatment of more than 7,500 patients from Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom since the terrorists' attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
As director of the John P. Murtha Cancer Center, Shriver said approximately 30 to 45 percent of care delivered at WRNMMC is associated with cancer screening, prevention or the cure of patients with cancer. "All departments are involved, from radiology to internal medicine. These people are the best and highly trained."
Excellence in training is another area Shriver has been recognized, having been promoted to professor of surgery at USU in 2008. Also in his role as NCC director of its general surgery residency training program, he prepares doctors to be world-class surgeons within the Department of Defense in order to care for wounded warriors and their families.
Yu, as a colleague of Shriver for more than 10 years, describes him as "a dedicated Soldier, surgeon, teacher and researcher who embodies what it is to be an academic physician and military medical officer. It is people like him who make WRNMMC an academic medical center on the cutting edge of medical care, research and education. He is totally committed to training current and future generations of military surgeons to ensure that the best care is available to military members and their families.
"Physician leaders like him have many opportunities to pursue prestigious and lucrative leadership opportunities outside of the military, but instead choose to stay because of their dedication to our mission of taking care of our nation's past and present heroes and their families," Yu added.
Another one of Shriver's colleagues, Army Col. Michael R. Nelson, deputy commander for Education, Training and Research at WRNMMC, agrees.
"I've known Col. Shriver for more than 10 years. He is a visionary, model educator and leader, inspiring all those who work with him and whom he trains. He is so very well deserving of this prestigious [Courage to Teach] award, placing him amongst the nation's most elite educators.
"His selfless service and dedication to those he leads is legendary," Nelson added. "It was no surprise to me that during his humble acceptance [of the Courage to Teach award], he refused to accept the honor as an individual and accepted it on behalf of all military health-care educators and providers."