Distinguished Physician Dr. Kenneth Walker Addresses FSC Students and Faculty

Sep 17, 2014

by Cary McMullen | Publications editor

Dr. H. Kenneth Walker, who has had a long and distinguished career as a physician, educator, and innovator in medicine, spoke to more than a hundred Florida Southern students and faculty members at a dinner in his honor on September 5 in the Eleanor Searle Drawing Room.

Dr. Walker, professor of medicine and neurology at Emory University School of Medicine, is considered a towering figure in the field of medical education, and his address was titled “Preparing to Achieve Excellence in Healthcare Professions.” His audience was drawn mainly from the School of Nursing and students preparing for careers in medicine.

Dr. Walker was awarded the honorary degree doctor of humane letters by President Anne Kerr at the conclusion of the event.

In his address, Dr. Walker noted that health care is a profession devoted equally to people and to science. He cited seven habits that applied to the intersection of the patient, the healthcare provider, and life.

Widely recognized for his deep commitment to enhancing health care for poor and underserved populations, Dr. Walker has served for many years as deputy chief of medicine at Grady Hospital in Atlanta, the fifth largest public hospital in the country. He told his audience that teaching hospitals like Grady represent a social contract, in which the poor are treated in exchange for the training of physicians.

“Habit number one is that you have a sacred contract and obligation with sick poor people. You must take care of them,” he said.

He added that healthcare providers should “see in every patient an opportunity to serve humanity by giving the best medical care, and also to add to the profession’s store of knowledge. At the end of every encounter, ask yourself the question: What did I learn?”

Dr. Walker has been associated with Emory for more than 60 years, earning his bachelor of science and doctor of medicine degrees there. In 1971, he joined the faculty of Emory University School of Medicine, where he has taught generations of students and authored or edited multiple books, including the classic textbook Clinical Methods. He is a three-time recipient of the Outstanding Professor award at Emory and was honored with the Evangeline Papageorge Teaching Award in 1996.

At Grady Hospital, Dr. Walker pioneered electronic medical record keeping in 1980, developing a database that now has more than 2 million records and setting the stage for modern electronic medical record keeping.

He has worked extensively in international healthcare. Since 2000, he has been CEO of Partners for International Health, which has helped develop health care in the Republic of Georgia. He also has worked with Nobel Prize winner Mohammad Yunus to improve health care in Bangladesh.

In presenting Dr. Walker with the honorary degree, President Kerr called him “one of our nation’s most respected physicians and medical educators.”

“He is an exemplar of the highest ethics, revered by students, colleagues, and all who have benefitted from his extraordinary skill and unswerving dedication to preeminent medical care,” she said.