When Jerry Andes, MD, Class of 1960, and Nancy Towbin, MD, Class of 1991, talk about being members of the Trojan Family, they are serious — the father/daughter both attended the Keck School of Medicine of USC, albeit 30 years apart, and share fond memories of their OB/GYN residencies – both conducted at the Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center.
Andes served as a volunteer Keck School faculty member for 40 years, retiring as emeritus clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology, but during his residency at what was then County Hospital, “we were delivering almost 15,000 babies a year and we’d deliver them in the hallways and on gurneys.”
By the time Towbin arrived, things had slowed down a bit in the delivery room, but she still can speak to the incredible talent, skills and especially the compassionate humanity that were and continue to be a hallmark of Keck School faculty and staff.
Andes and Towbin recently attended their first Annual Meeting and Health Care Conference last November as alumni, where they met Rohit Varma, MD, MPH, dean of the Keck School and director of the USC Gayle and Edward Roski Eye Institute, who hosted the event and delivered an address at the luncheon.
The dean’s message — that compassion is integral to medicine — resonated with both, who agree that the human element in medicine is very important, especially today, where it can seem that technology has overtaken all aspects of care, sometimes to the detriment of the patient.
When they talk about patient care and medicine as a whole, it’s obvious that the people both doctors have cared for over the years in their practices are the most important factor to them as physicians, and that it’s very important to them that the legacy of compassionate care is continued at the Keck School for decades to come.
Towbin, who has taken over her father’s practice since his retirement, plans to start volunteering with the admissions office this year, in order to help the Keck School find just the right students to fulfill their goals in the medical field.
“I think those are the type of people that I want to really appeal to and bring into medical school, people that primarily have a heart and are compassionate,” she said. “You’ve got to love people. If you don’t love people, don’t go into medicine! It’s such a fascinating journey, though, to get to know people and it’s almost like solving a puzzle.”
When asked what advice he had for future physicians, Andes said, “do it because you love it, because there’s absolutely nothing better than having a grateful patient tell you how great you are or how you helped her or how she loves that baby or how well she did after that surgery.”
— Amanda Busick