Monday, May 7, 2012

Yale professor to deliver graduation address at KCKCC May 22


That Howard Shaw is a success in his chosen field should come as no surprise to those who knew him during his days working in the College Bookstore while earning an Associate’s degree at Kansas City Kansas Community College.

President of the Phi Theta Kappa honorary society his sophomore year and recipient of the College’s Outstanding Student and Academic Awards, Shaw was named the Outstanding Community College student for the entire state of Kansas in 1982.

“It seemed like the smart thing to do,” Shaw said of his decision to attend KCKCC. “My dad (Duane) was Director of Student Activities and I didn’t have a whole lot of money so I was able to save up by working in the Bookstore and Arthur Treacher’s Fish and Chips on State Avenue. And I was also assured that all my credits would transfer to KU.”

Now one of the nation’s leading physicians and hospital administrators, Dr. Howard Shaw will be returning to KCKCC Tuesday, May 22, when he will deliver the main address at the College’s graduation ceremonies.

Presently the Chairman of The Women’s and Children’s Services of Saint Raphael Healthcare System in New Haven, Conn., he also holds three positions with the Yale University School of Medicine.

Shaw is a clinical associate professor as well as the site director for the Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN) Residency Program and the Emergency Department Residency Program.

“Its interesting being at an Ivy League school,” says Shaw. “They definitely don’t know what to expect from anyone not from the Ivy League. Almost the entire faculty went to Yale or schools in the northeast, so they’re kind of amazed that a guy from the Midwest could make it in New England.”

Shaw is not the only successful Midwesterner. His wife, Julia, a graduate of UMKC, is employed by Yale as an assistant professor and director of the OB/GYN residency program – while also serving as Medical Director of the Yale-New Haven Hospital’s Women’s Center.

Ironically, Shaw’s first choice of a career was not of being a physician but becoming an archeologist.

“I remember even in second grade being interested in science,” says Shaw. “My mom (Ola) says it started in kindergarten. But then my dad reminded me that it is hard to make a living as an archeologist, so medical school was a better option.”

Howard Shaw’s work has earned him national respect and recognition.

A board examiner for the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, he’s also Chair of the American College OB/GYN In-Service Examination Committee and a member of the Accreditation Council for the Graduate Medical Education Milestones organization.

One of the only doctors in the U.S. to serve all three of those organizations, he’s been given the responsibility of creating the framework for all future training for residents in OB/GYN.

“We’ll be designing what OB/GYN will look like in the future,” says Shaw. “I’ve been very fortunate to have the support of my clinical and academic endeavors by my employers. They all recognize that having me participate reflects positively on the organization and hospital.”

In demand as a speaker, he’s been invited to lecture all over the U.S. as well as Costa Rica and most recently on a Mediterranean cruise to the Holy Land and in addition, written papers for countless publications (his resume alone requires 54 pages).

A 1980 graduate of Washington High School, where he ran track, played football and sophomore basketball, Shaw started working at the KCKCC Bookstore while still in high school.

“I worked for Bill Ethridge in the Bookstore,” remembers Shaw. “Dave Klein was my chemistry professor, Gerald Ullrich taught calculus, Gerald Hodgson physics and John Ryan history and world civilization.”

Shaw earned a BS in Biochemistry from the University of Kansas in 1984, then obtained his doctorate from the KU Medical Center in 1988 and completed his final four years of residency training at the University of Oklahoma in Tulsa.

“You must do four years of residency before you can practice,” says Shaw. “Officially, you’re a doctor but you still have to go through more training. It’s tough to put your life on hold. Despite the fact that my first year’s pay was $16,000 and I was working over 100 hours per week, my first son was born in 1990.”

Life didn’t slow down once he finished his residency.

“I practiced three days a week, had one day of surgery and trained medical students and resident physicians at the same time,” says Shaw. “It was a busy job.”

Over the next 12 years he would became Director of OB/GYN and the Medical Student Education Division at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa.

That all changed in 2004 when he was recruited by the St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, Connecticut  to become Chairman of the OBGYN department.

“I was still seeing patients two days a week and operating half days, mostly hysterectomies, and doing a lot teaching.”

Since then he’s held multiple positions, mostly at the same time. In addition to being Chairman, Residency Program Director and Designated Institutional Official for St. Francis, he was also an associate professor for the University of Connecticut and Site Director for the Nurse Midwifery Program for Georgetown University.

“Being Designated Institutional Official meant being in charge of all graduate medication education at St. Francis so for about three years I was holding four jobs and working 100 hours a week. It was a crazy time.”

In 2008, he added the position of Assistant Dean of Medical Education at St. Francis to his workload before taking on his present position at Saint Raphael in 2011.

“Yale is only four-tenths of a mile away and is affiliated with Saint Raphael,” he says. “I do a lot of teaching at Yale and a lot of Yale trainees come to my hospital. I still practice, teaching residents on gynecology surgery such as bladder tie-ups, but most of my time is divided between administration and teaching.”

However, he’s still a Midwesterner at heart. He has four sons: Drew, who will graduate from the University of Oklahoma this month and plans to enter medical school; J.D., a sophomore in pre-dentistry at Tulsa Community College; and Brandon and Robbie, who are high school students in Tulsa.

Not only will Shaw’s graduation address on May 22 come on the 30th anniversary of his graduation from KCKCC but it’s an opportunity to see his parents, Duane and Ola, and brother, Danny.

“I owe all of my drive and ambition to my parents who provided unending encouragement to be successful in my chosen profession.  I could not have achieved my dreams without the loving support of my family.”