Yolanda and James Oertel Give $2.5 Million to Support Medical Humanities at SMHS

GW President Dr. Steven Knapp, Dr. Yolanda C. Oertel and Dean Jeffrey S. Akman

Medical humanities is an interdisciplinary field that addresses the application of the humanities, the arts, and social sciences to medical education. Yolanda C. Oertel, M.D., RESD ’72, and her husband James E. Oertel, M.D., who passed away on Dec. 5 2013, of Falls Church, Va., donated $2.5 million to the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) to establish The Yolanda and James Oertel Professorship for the Medical Humanities. The couple hopes that the endowed professorship will help incorporate the study of medical humanities into medical education and give students and physicians the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the human condition and improve their clinical skills.

“The use of humanities refines the humanistic skills of physicians and contributes to their sense of well-being during their professional lives,” said GW President Steven Knapp as he welcomed Dr. Oertel, a graduate of the SMHS pathology residency program, during a special luncheon, Nov. 1. Knapp thanked the couple for their generosity and dedication to the medical humanities. During the ceremony, Dr. Oertel and Knapp joined Jeffrey S. Akman, M.D. ’81, RESD ’85, Bloedorn Professor of Administrative Medicine, vice president for Health Affairs and dean of SMHS, for the signing of the check.

This fund will endow the Professor and Director of the SMHS Medical Humanities Program, which will be the first commitment for a named professorship in this discipline at the school.