Call Me Del: Dogged in the Pursuit of Excellence
The Author was born in the little town of Rahbeh in North Lebanon. He was the youngest of four boys. The family lived in a one room house, with no amenities, no kitchen or bathroom. They lived off the land, a limited bit of land. He and his brothers worked hard to keep the farm up and running. Life in Rahbeh in those days was primitive and simple, reminiscent of biblical times.
The author's father who had been in the USA for some years as a youngster came to appreciate the importance of higher education having himself been only to elementary school. Thus the father's life mission was to secure the best possible educational opportunities for his children; this was not an easy task, not in Lebanon in the 1930s and 1940s. To accomplish that he made the remarkable decision to travel to the west coast of Africa where he spent 11 years away from his family. He would send money home to the mother who's job among her many responsibilities, was to make certain the children were applying themselves at school.
The author completed elementary education at the age of 11, but because of insufficient funds was delayed one year before going to high school. He graduated from high school at age 16 and enrolled as a freshmen in college at the American University of Beirut (AUB).His father's dream was to see his son as a doctor. He thus was determined that his son study medicine." I have never doubted that he made the right decision for me" the author states.
He graduated from the AUB school of medicine in June 54. During internship he applied and was accepted to work for an oil company. However it was the sincere praise of a single man that not only changed his plan but essentially chartedhis entire career path. He came to the United States in 1956 to study hematology at Washington University in St. Louis. It was here that Dr. Yunis fell in love with medical research and launched his career as a physician-scientist. Once down that path he discovered an inner drive to succeed and an incomparable passion for his work and the research mission.
This book is Dr. Yunis's way of revisiting the highlights of his career and his research accomplishments. It is also the story of how the author moved from a great institution to a young medical school promising a wealth of challenges and the potential for academic excellence.
Instead he became closely involved in a struggle between two agendas, an agenda for academic excellence against, what in his opinion, was an agenda for a health care supermarket. Because of poor misguided leadership at the top, a center for academic excellence was not realized. Nevertheless, Dr. Yunis could never be swayed from his pursuit of excellence always recognizing that "our mission as physician-scientists is to constantly generate new knowledge through research for the betterment of the quality of human life and to reproduce ourselves always creating new generations of physician-scientists to carry the torch. It is this noble mission and its execution that distinguishes great medical schools from the average ones."
Academic excellence will not thrive at medical centers designed as health care supermarkets. Because such centers place more value on clinical practice and the generation of income they often become graveyards for fledgling academicians. Resources alone, no matter how abundant, will not make a medical school great. It is theleadership at the top; an educated leadership totally committed to academic excellence as reflected by selecting the brightest students and recruiting and retaining faculty academicians of the highest quality.
In this book, the author also touches on a number of topics along with his views. These include: life in the United States, our moral values and how they have changed over the past fifty years; our failed foreign policy and the anti-American sentiment in the Middle East; our war on terrorism; the war in Iraq and the quagmire we have put ourselves into; U.S. foreign aid; the unhealthy status of our health care system; illegal immigration and the insecurity at our borders and other topics.
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