Association president wants alumni to own their legacy
L-R: College President and CEO T. Michael Bolger, JD; incoming Alumni Association President Thomas G. Wittmann, MD ’84, GME ’87; and outgoing Association President Paul S. Fox, MD ’68, GME ’73.
From the celebration of a baby’s birth to the compassionate care of a senior patient, Thomas G. Wittmann, MD ’84, GME ’87, enjoys the full spectrum of family medicine. It is a career path he envisioned before completing high school in a small community where he learned the value of a family doctor. All along, he was motivated by the opportunity to form enduring patient relationships.
“Many of the patients and individuals I care for have become like an extended family to me,” said Dr. Wittmann, who has practiced in Waukesha with Moreland Family Medicine Associates since 1993 as one of five founding members. “One of the most rewarding experiences I have is when a patient asks me for my opinion on a recommendation they have received from a specialist regarding a diagnosis or treatment plan. There is that patient-physician trust that is so special.”
It is not difficult to detect that same enthusiasm and sense of family in Dr. Wittmann’s approach to alumni relations at the Medical College, where he has been elected President of the Medical College of Wisconsin/Marquette Medical Alumni Association. After becoming more active in the Association through participation on reunion planning committees, Dr. Wittmann joined the Alumni Association Board nearly four years ago. He describes it as a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the Medical College’s achievements and goals and to meet alumni of different generations.
“As President of the Association, I hope to continue fostering a sense of pride and ownership in the Medical College for its current graduates,” he said. “Its strength, in part, comes from the individuals who have graduated and now practice and represent The Medical College of Wisconsin locally, regionally, and throughout the United States.”
Encouraging more alumni to participate in Association activities will reinforce that relationship, said Dr. Wittmann, who has endorsed acquiring and updating alumni e-mail addresses so that e-mail can grow as a viable way to maintain contact between the Medical College and its graduates. Building the bonds between the Alumni Association and current students by supporting student involvement on the board and providing funds for student activities and scholarships is among his priorities.
“Hopefully as students become alumni themselves, they will appreciate their part in the legacy of this fine institution and desire to help maintain its prominence among medical schools,” he said. Perhaps they too can enjoy involvement with the Alumni Association.”
Dr. Wittmann has been an ambassador for the Medical College and a role model to students since before his service to the Association. First- and second-year medical students have done clinical preceptorships in his office, and he has staffed the family practice residency clinic.
Instilled by his parents and significant to him as a parent, community service is a substantial part of Dr. Wittmann’s life. He is a physician volunteer at the St. Joseph Medical and Dental Clinic in Waukesha, a free clinic. He has been President and a board member for the Food Pantry of Waukesha County. He currently serves on the Board for Family Service of Waukesha County, a nonprofit agency providing mental health services and educational programs. This includes the Big Yellow House, home of Children’s Place and the C.A.R.E Center, which provides services to children and adolescents who have been affected by a traumatic event or were victims of abuse or neglect. He also serves on the St. Bruno School Committee where his children attend school.
Dr. Wittmann has two children, David, 13, and Jacquelyn, 8, with his wife of 20 years, Beth Erickson Wittmann, MD ’84, GME ’88, Professor of Radiation Oncology at the Medical College. He enjoys the many family activities they share as well as hiking, biking, snowshoeing, gardening, golfing and attending Marquette basketball and Green Bay Packers football games.
Dr. Wittmann’s path in medicine
After graduation from The Medical College of Wisconsin in 1984 and completion of his family medicine residency with Medical College of Wisconsin Affiliated Hospitals in 1987, Thomas G. Wittmann, MD ’84, GME ’87, joined alumnus Robert Stevens, MD ’84, GME ’87, at Deckner Medical Clinic in Green Bay, Wis. Shortly thereafter, he married classmate and alumna Beth Erickson, MD ’84, GME ’88, who was and remains on the radiation oncology faculty at the Medical College. Because of the distance between their practice locations, they determined early on that one of them would have to make a change. Beth really desired to stay in an academic setting, and Thomas happened to run into former classmate Gwendolyn D. Tanel, MD ’84, GME ’87, at a medical meeting. She informed him that her practice had grown and she and her partner were looking to add another physician in the Waukesha area. As difficult as it was for him to leave his practice in Green Bay, Dr. Wittmann said it turned out to be a wonderful opportunity for Beth and him.
After several years, his group joined three other independent family physicians including James E. Dall, MD ’74. Dr. Wittmann was one of five founding members of Moreland Family Medicine Associates in 1993. Since then they have expanded and now consist of eight family physicians (including Robert E. Schellinger, MD ’95, GME ’98, and Elizabeth M. Davies, MD ’95, GME ’98), four nurse practitioners and two physician assistants.
View the entire summer 2009 issue of Alumni News. (opens as a pdf)