An event in October honoring Gerald Hill, M.D., one of the Center of American Indian and Minority Health’s first leaders, drew a grateful crowd of colleagues and former students.
Tiffany Beckman, M.D., the first Native American endocrinologist in the nation, stepped up to the podium and took a deep breath. “I told myself I wasn’t going to cry,” she began, but cry she did as she told Gerald Hill, M.D., what his encouragement had meant to her during medical school.
Similar stories and tears of thanks were shared by alumni Brett Benally Thompson, Jason Deen, Kansas DuBray, Amy DeLong, Shanda Lohse, and Joycelyn Dorscher. All of them physicians, Native Americans, and University of Minnesota Medical School alumni, they gathered with family and friends in Minneapolis last fall to honor Hill, one of the first directors of the University’s Center of American Indian and Minority Health (CAIMH), and to acknowledge his positive influence on their career paths.
A Klamath/Paiute from Oregon, Hill became one of the first directors of CAIMH on the Duluth Campus in 1990. Under his leadership, CAIMH established programs that aim to decrease health disparities in American Indian communities by recruiting American Indian students into the health professions.
“Dr. Hill’s dedication, advocacy, mentorship, and passionate, visionary leadership helped me and so many others truly realize our capabilities and prepare us to serve as Native American physicians,” says Dorscher, who followed Hill as CAIMH’s director.
Hill currently practices emergency medicine with HealthEast in St. Paul. Among the gifts alumni presented to him was a Pendleton blanket picturing the Circle of Life and inscribed with the words “Doctor. Mentor. Leader.”