[June 2008] Lynn D. Wilson, MD, MPH, says he’s certain he’d win any BlackBerry contest at Yale because his device is always close at hand. “It’s the only thing [my wife] has to compete against,” he jokes. Wilson, vice chair and clinical director of the Department of Therapeutic Radiology, is known for returning phone calls from patients and referring physicians within an hour. Habits like that are among the reasons he was chosen to be the first winner of the newly-established David J. Leffell Prize for Clinical Excellence.
The prize, which includes a plaque and a check for $1,000, was funded by a gift from David J. Leffell, MD, Yale Medical Group’s CEO, and his wife, Cindy. The prize reflects and reinforces YMG’s priority that its physicians deliver top-notch care, incorporating clinical expertise, a commitment to teaching, and compassion for patients. Winners are chosen by Dean Robert J. Alpern, MD, after being recommended bya panel. This year’s panelists were James C. Tsai, MD, chair of ophthalmology and visual sciences; Joseph H. Zelson, MD, clinical professor of pediatrics; and Thomas J. Balcezak, MD, assistant clinical professor of medicine. Wilson’s name and those of future prize winners will be placed on a plaque in the Sterling Hall of Medicine.
In nominating Wilson, Peter M. Glazer, MD, chair of therapeutic radiology, wrote “I have received numerous comments from referring physicians and correspondence from patients regarding Dr. Wilson’s exceptional clinical care, compassion and responsiveness.”
At the award ceremony, Alpern added, “When you talk to referring physicians who don’t send their patients to Yale, and ask them why, it’s never an issue of quality care. They all know that their patients who come here will get quality care. The issue that often comes up is communication, and Lynn serves as a great example of how academic specialists should communicate with all the providers involved in patient care.”
Wilson is no stranger to high honors. In May he received the Francis Gilman Blake Award, given by the graduating medical school class to an outstanding teacher of the medical sciences. In the recent past he has been named to America’s Top Doctors, New York magazine Best Doctors, and America’s Top Doctors for Cancer.
His approach to successful practice is threefold: to be dynamic, efficient and responsive. “Whether it’s talking to patients, speaking to referring physicians, editing dictations, seeing a patient who’s waiting in room three—these are all things that we have to do as part of the job,” Wilson said. “So my philosophy is, if we have to do them, we have to do them. It’s much better if we do them quickly and efficiently and take care of them because then all the end users will be satisfied.”
He extends the most credit to his team. “Everybody around here, whether it’s a physician or a nurse or a secretary, has an incredible team spirit and camaraderie. If I didn’t have this incredible team around me, I wouldn’t be half as successful.”
Wilson first arrived at Yale in 1984 as a student at the School of Public Health. He earned his medical degree at George Washington University, here summer jobs at an NIH lab convinced him to pursue academic oncology. He returned to Yale-New Haven Hospital for his internship and residency in internal medicine and therapeutic radiology, and joined the faculty upon graduation.
He lives in Westport with his wife, Nancy, his son Hunter, 6, and daughter, Victoria, 3. “I’m going to keep the big plaque at home for a couple of months, since it’s really my family that allows me to do what I do. I have a very supportive wife, and
it makes a big difference.”