Department Culture

Along with the with the amazing growth of the hospital and the number of faculty and residents the, early years were recalled as a time of fun and mutual support.  Dr. Debra Fiser, who received her medical degree from UAMS and later became Chair of the Department of Pediatrics in 1995 and Dean of the School of Medicine in 2006, recalls: “I think the thing that is very special about our Department is that we have historically had a culture that has really been almost a family type culture- one where people take care of each other, nurture each other.”

Dr. Fiser established that culture by focusing on the wellbeing and success of every one of his faculty.  But this was also a time of fun.  Dr. Jacobs commented: “It was really a fun time because the people that were really important loved this place and they loved the people and the kids in the state. … I think what was really cool and special about this place is that there was a group of people, (kind of a core), that had the same values and the same goals.  They just liked each other, and they really got along.”

The best example of how the faculty had fun in those years was the annual “Mardi Gras” party.  Dr. Russell Steele was recruited to the Department of Pediatrics in 1978 as an Infectious Disease specialist.  He and his wife Jenny were natives of New Orleans, and they had an annual party to celebrate Mardi Gras.  Everyone on the faculty took this seriously and dressed up appropriately.

The food was authentic, prizes were offered for the best costumes, and there was even a parade around the house.   Dr. Rhonda Dick, who served as chief of the Division of Emergency Medicine for more than 20 years, recalled, “In the old days it was sort of a smaller kind of, I call it a ‘Good old boys network’ even though I am not a boy.  We would have parties like at the end of the year for the graduating residents all day long out at Maumelle Country Club pool.

We would spend the whole day out there swimming, playing golf—residents and attendings.  We had parties like that with skits that made fun of each other. You know, we just had a lot of fun then.