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“When I review fellowship applications, they always have a personal statement. Someone always says they’re here to save the world,” said USA gastroenterologist Dr. Jack Di Palma. “I have never said that, but I am passionate for medicine because it gives me the opportunity to perform a service that is a blessing.”
Dr. Di Palma, program director of the division of gastroenterology and professor of internal medicine at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, recently celebrated 30 years at USA as a medical educator and physician.
Dr. Di Palma joined the USA College of Medicine in 1987 after completing gastroenterology fellowship training at Wilford Hall USAG Medical Center in San Antonio, serving on faculty for four years as assistant chair of gastroenterology.
“When I started at USA, there was no formal gastroenterology program at the university. I was fortunate enough to recruit faculty and start a fellowship program to develop research in teaching and to develop our patient care programs,” Dr. Di Palma said.
Dr. Di Palma served as director of gastroenterology until October 2016, when Dr. Brooks Cash took over as director of gastroenterology. “Dr. Cash is an experienced clinician, administrator and educator who is well-poised to be the next generation’s leader in the gastroenterology division,” Dr. Di Palma said.
Dr. Di Palma is passionate about teaching students and fellows training in the gastroenterology program. “I always remind students to cherish the blessing of practicing medicine,” he said.
When he’s not busy mentoring and creating curricula for fellows in the gastroenterology department - during which time he recently welcomed the division’s 50th fellow - Dr. Di Palma looks forward to another kind of mentoring. He is the team faculty advisor for the USA Bass Fishing Club.
Dr. Di Palma said, “We could joke and say that I’m the designated grown-up for the team, but since my children are now 38 and 33, it’s been fun to be a mentor again to young adults.”
An avid outdoorsman for many years, Dr. Di Palma has enjoyed fishing in the many fresh and salt waters that are available to citizens in our region. When the advisor position for the USA Bass Fishing Club came up, he immediately jumped aboard.
“Programs like the USA Bass Fishing Club are important because we all need to be well-rounded individuals and move away from our jobs every now and then. It helps to expand ourselves, relax, reflect and be more productive,” he said.
Dr. Di Palma supports his team, who has qualified for and will be competing in a national tournament Oct. 10-11, 2017, on Lake Bemidji in Bemidji, Minn. “We are fortunate to have superb athletes on the USA Bass Fishing Team,” Dr. Di Palma said.
After 30 years of service at USA, Dr. Di Palma believes that the mentoring of medical students, fellows and members of the USA Bass Fishing Team are important parts of his career. “I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to mentor and teach medical students, athletes, and at least 50 young gastroenterologists who are scattered all over the country.”
As far as the future, Dr. Di Palma is excited to have recruited an excellent leader in Dr. Cash and looks forward to continuing what he calls a blessing - that of being an academic physician.
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