Alumni Association President provides
leadership example for all who follow
New Alumni Association President Dr. Hankwitz (second from left)
talks with President and CEO John R. Raymond, Sr., MD, immediate
past Alumni Association President Kathleen S. Stokes, MD '87, GME '91,
and Dean of the Medical School and Executive Vice President Joseph E.
Kerschner, MD '90, Fel '98.
The variety of roles that Paul E. Hankwitz, MD ’74, GME ’78, has embraced during 35 years in medicine leads the newest President of the Medical College of Wisconsin/Marquette Medical Alumni Association to describe his career as “eclectic.” His knowledge of geriatrics, his longtime focus, has given him unique opportunities to be a valued advisor, a trusted physician and an insightful leader, often in non-traditional settings.
Dr. Hankwitz has assisted Northwestern Mutual with the development of the company’s long-term care product as well as its underwriting standards for older applicants seeking life insurance products as financial vehicles. He has been a private practitioner in internal medicine/geriatrics. He has served as Medical Director for several health care and assisted living organizations, including the Milwaukee Visiting Nurse Association, the Village at Manor Park Senior Healthcare System and CRL Senior Living Communities.
Dr. Paul Hankwitz is dedicated to reaching out to both current and future alumni. At the 2013 Clinical Conference, he spent a moment with his look-alike, Jamison Bauer, whose parents (Anderson A. Bauer, MD ’07, GME ’12, and Cindy Salm Bauer, MD ’07, Fel ’13); grandparents (Mark A. Bauer, MD ’73, GME ’78, and Cynthia A. Bauer, MD ’74, GME ’75); great-grandfather (Delore Williams, MD ’48); uncle (Aaron J. Bauer, MD ’02); and aunt (Toni Salm Dillon, MD ’01, GME ’05, Fel ’06) are all MCW alumni.
He was Vice President and Chief Medical Director of Transamerica Life Companies, Medical Director of Clinical Affairs for Columbia St. Mary’s, and a Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) faculty member serving as Medical Director of the MCW Senior Health Program. Today, he is on a new path, engaged in veteran compensation and pension disability evaluations at the Zablocki VA Medical Center.
“I’ve never had the opportunity to serve our country in the military, and this experience allows me to potentially assist our deserving veterans,” Dr. Hankwitz said. “Every day is especially satisfying because it gives me the chance to personally thank our veterans for their service to our country.”
Building relationships has always been its own reward for Dr. Hankwitz, whether interacting with aging patients and their families, with health care professionals at all levels or with medical students and residents in an educational capacity.
“Exposure to the inquisitive young minds with thirst for knowledge of the best ways to care for the elderly has been most stimulating and enjoyable,” he said.
Dr. Hankwitz learned about connecting with people on a personal level early in his life. His father, a family physician, would take him along on housecalls. It kindled an interested that manifested in 1988, when Dr. Hankwitz became a founder of the American Academy of Home Care Physicians, an organization of health care professionals who promote the art, science and practice of medicine in the home.
“Today, the Academy and the housecall are thriving, with new care models incorporating housecalls as a cost-effective way to reduce nursing home admissions, hospitalizations and re-hospitalizations,” he said. “With the aging of America, the field of geriatrics is continuing to advance to meet the needs of the elderly.”
Dr. Hankwitz is also encouraged by how MCW is advancing, particularly in education, and he sees both opportunities and obligation for alumni to contribute. Alumni support, he says, is critical for student education within the Discovery Curriculum as well as the Community Medical Education Program MCW is developing in the Central Wisconsin and Green Bay regions to address the growing demand for physicians, particularly in primary care and in underserved areas.
“Some of our community alumni in those regions will play an instrumental role in the educational and mentoring process,” he said. “In our current economic environment, it is critical that our alumni continue to support their alma mater verbally and financially. We need to help increase scholarships to recruit the best and brightest students to the Medical College of Wisconsin.”
Dr. Hankwitz, who with his wife, Jo Ann, has three married daughters and five grandchildren, joined the Alumni Association Board in 2009.
“Serving on the Alumni Board has provided me with an opportunity to learn more about MCW’s vision and successes, as well as to meet and work with alumni of all generations,” he said.
Throughout a diverse career emphasizing geriatrics, Paul E. Hankwitz, MD ’74, GME ’78, has been a leader often. He has been honored by the American Academy of Home Care Physicians as National Physician of the Year and by the Milwaukee Academy of Medicine with its President’s Award. He is an Emeritus Board Director of the American Academy of Home Care Physicians, belongs to the American College of Physicians and now holds the reins of the Alumni Association.
It was an eleventh-hour boost, however, that set his career in motion. As Dr. Hankwitz explains:
“Not many people know that I was the very last person admitted to my medical school class, and it happened two weeks after class had already begun. A freshman student had dropped out, and I was on the waiting list at that time.
“As you can imagine, I was more than thankful to MCW/Marquette for that call from Janet Sine, (then Director of Admissions & Registrar). Upon my arrival, virtually all of my classmates were more than supportive, sharing their notes and other educational materials, and they quickly got me up to speed. They are all a terrific group of incredible people, some now with national and international recognition and achievements.
“My MCW/Marquette medical education gave me a strong and firm foundation to build on. I was more than honored to eventually become a chief medical resident for the MCW Affiliated Hospitals, and that provoked development of my leadership skills. Edmund Duthie, MD, GME ’80, Professor of Medicine and Chief of Geriatrics and Gerontology at MCW, has been instrumental and supportive in many aspects of my professional career, as have many others. My sincere gratitude to all!
“In retrospect, my medical career has been a fascinating experience, and I sincerely thank MCW/Marquette for providing me with that opportunity!”
Comments are subject to approval. The Medical College reserves the right to edit comments for length, grammar, clarity and appropriateness.
Please include your first and last name. Alumni, please also feel free to include your class year(s). Your e-mail address will not be published.