UW News

December 22, 1998

Rathmann Family Foundation commits to funding Endowed Chair in Patient-Centered Clinical Education

Recognizing the vital importance of training physicians who are dedicated to patient-centered care, the Rathmann Family Foundation will contribute $1.5 million to fund an endowed chair in patient-centered clinical education at the University of Washington.

The chair will be the first within the UW School of Medicine and possibly the first in the country to acknowledge the important role of the outstanding clinician/teacher in educating physicians and to provide resources for innovations in medical education.

The medical school in 1989 adopted a clinician/teacher pathway within its tenure track, acknowledging that the demands of a world-class research program can displace time committed to teaching and patient care, and affirming the importance of developing faculty whose major commitment is to training the next generation of physicians. The school established rigorous criteria for evaluation and promotion of clinician/teachers, who are expected to spend 80 percent of their time on teaching and patient care, and 20 percent on scholarship.

“We welcome this endowment from the Rathmann family as a public, tangible means of recognizing and rewarding excellence in teaching and patient care,” said Dr. Paul G. Ramsey, vice president for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “We anticipate that the clinician/teacher to be chosen for the Rathmann Family Endowed Chair will model those characteristics of communication, empathy, integrity and responsibility that the best physicians bring to their patients.”

“The Rathmann Family Foundation board endowed this chair in response to troubling incidents suffered by friends and family members in hospitals and clinics around the country,” said Laura Jean Rathmann, vice president of the foundation. “In most cases, problems did not stem from a lack of technology or expertise, as much as from a lack of focus on the patient and a lack of meaningful communication with the patient’s family.

“My parents, George and Joy Rathmann, love living in Washington and they recognize the importance of the University of Washington,” she said. “The UW School of Medicine is the perfect place for our largest grant to date.”

While the foundation’s goal is to encourage the UW in its efforts to create patient-oriented doctors, its financial resources came from cutting-edge science and technology. George Rathmann is a co-founder of Amgen, Inc., the California-based biotechnology firm of which he was also first chairman and CEO. He is currently chairman and CEO of Icos Corporation.

The Rathmanns established their family foundation in Washington in 1991. Its primary area of philanthropy is in education, with priority given to science and math as well as the arts, in cities where family members live: San Francisco, Philadelphia and Minneapolis-St. Paul, as well as Seattle. In Seattle, the foundation funds science education, scientific research and environmental education.

The foundation will make a initial installment of $870,000 by the end of January. Once its gift has been completed, a holder of the chair will be nominated by the dean.

As well as being one of the top-ranked schools in attracting research funding, the UW School of Medicine has been ranked for the past five years by U.S. News & World Report as the leading medical school in primary-care training. As part of the school’s mission to provide primary-care physicians for a five-state region, more than half the University’s graduating physicians have committed to primary care.