N. Lynn Eckhert, MD, MPH, DRPH
2012 Alma Dea Morani Awardee
Dr. Eckhert is Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, Professor in the Graduate School of Nursing and Adjunct Professor in Public Health at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and a Senior Lecturer in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.
A truly enriching experience for Dr. Eckhert has been immersing herself in the letters and writings of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman physician in the United States. She actually enjoyed the hours spent at the Library of Congress, the Radcliffe Institute and visiting numerous historical sites. Wishing to share the story of this remarkable pioneer, Dr. Eckhert, wrote a one woman play, “A Lady Alone.” Crafting the play brought her to a writing group, a cadre of friends and colleagues who offered criticism and support for the idea of promoting Elizabeth Blackwell and to a playwriting intensive course at Sarah Lawrence College. This course brought together the commonalities of the humanities and medicine by paralleling the magnitude of exacting communication among the playwright, the audience, and the actors comparable to the dialogue among patient, family and physician. She suggests faculty training the next generation of physicians in communication skills would benefit from the dialogues and portrayal of emotions crafted by playwrights. “A Lady Alone” has been performed at numerous universities, medical organizations, libraries and historical societies across the United Stats where Dr. Eckhert often accompanies the play to provide an audience participation feedback. She finds these interactions with the audience to be of great value in understanding how medicine has progressed and how the next generation of physicians understand their history and imagine their future. Through these sessions and in her continued teaching and mentoring of students and young faculty Dr. Eckhert discovers the joys andconcerns of combining a professional career and personal callings with the realities of the times. Dr. Eckhert recognizes that she has been most fortunate in the support she has received from family, colleagues, friends and from medicine as a career of endless possibilities.
Following post graduate training in Pediatrics and Public Health at Johns Hopkins University as a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar, she joined the faculty at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. There she served as a clinician and as Associate Dean for Admissions, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Family and Community Medicine, and Dean/Vice Chancellor for International and Public Health Programs. She also served as Chairman of the school’ s Executive Committee, President of the University Hospital medical staff, Chair of the Credentials Committee and on the Executive Committee of the Group Practice. In 2003 she became the Director of Academic Programs at Partners Harvard Medical International, now Partners Healthcare International where she works in the development of medical schools, faculty development and quality improvement. Dr. Eckhert has numerous presentations and publications in primary care, global health, academic leadership and quality improvement.
She has served on the Board of Trustees of the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates and as its Chairman from 2001-2004. Dr. Eckhert also was a founding board member of the Foundation for the Advancement of Medical Education and research (FAIMER). Dr. Eckhert also is a past member of the Composite Committee of the National Board of Medical Examiners and presently serves on the Board of Directors, and on the International Advisory Committee. In 2012 Dr. Eckhert was named by the US Secretary of Education to the National Council Medical Education Accreditation.
Active in the Association of American Medical Colleges, Dr. Eckhert served on the Council of Academic Societies Administrative Board and as Chairman. She served for many years on the AAMC Executive Council presiding as the Chairman in 2004-2005. In 2005 she chaired the Search Committee for the Presidency of AAMC.
She is a Past President of the Association of Teachers of Preventive Medicine and a member of the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Academy of Family Physicians. In collaboration with the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Association of Schools of Public Health and the National Institute of Health, she is the Chairman of the selection committee to recommend health professional graduate students for participation in the yearlong international health research fellowship, the Fogarty Fellowships.
In addition to her work with PHMI, Dr. Eckhert’ s international experience includes provision of pediatric services in Africa, and Haiti, working with Project HOPE in primary care training in many sites around the world, and a sabbatical year spent teaching at the University of Zimbabwe School of Medicine. In 2009 she spent two months at the Lebanese American University in Byblos, Lebanon where she continues as the Interim Dean of the School of Medicine. Little did she know that her first post residency faculty position in the mid 1970s at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, a new medical school would be a harbinger of creating the new medical school in Lebanon. This leadership opportunity calls on her widespread experiences in academic medicine, in the organizations of academic medicine and in global health.
Dr. Eckhert’ s husband, Louis Fazen, lll and their three children, Curtis, Torrey and Bucky and their respective spouses, Amy, Dan and Alisha have been great inspirations to her family life and career. “Their appraisal is encouraging but challenging, critical but candid and always in my best interest.” Her new title of ‘ Grampion” to granddaughters, Addie and Lyla opens new possibilities for vivid life experiences.