When it comes to popularity, prof wins by more than just a nose
Professor Kurtis Cornish is a professor with a famous nose.
Posted: Thu, Jun 30, 2011
Having someone stick a tube down your nose to your stomach isn't anyone's idea of fun.
Medical students at the University of Nebraska Medical Center practice this essential skill in June workshops just before they start their rotations each July. They use one another as guinea pigs. But for some, the tube feels more than just uncomfortable. Some gag. Some grow too uptight.
That's when physiology professor Kurtis Cornish offers up his nose.
This happens probably 20 times each year.
"I don't want to be known only as the professor with the famous nose."
He's not. That's just one of many claims to fame for Cornish, a 35-year professor at UNMC and a longtime student favorite – medical students have picked him for the Golden Apple teaching award six times.
He's an innovator. He created the "J-term" at UNMC, an intense three-day workshop each June when medical students learn key diagnostic and treatment skills they need for the real world, like how to use that nose tube.
He developed a computerized "dog lab" to teach cardiovascular physiology – a method that's been adopted by educators around the world. Historically, students used real dogs.
He's known as someone who loves to teach, someone who remembers each student's name and someone who teaches students to learn the names of the people they treat.
"The message needs to be sent to students that patients are people, and not numbers," he says. "They need to think about the names of individuals rather than the diseases. It needs to be, ‘I'm going down to see Mrs. Jones, who happens to have pancreatic cancer' rather than saying, ‘We're going down to see the pancreatic patient in room such and such.'"
This past spring, University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken announced that Cornish was a winner of one of the university's most prestigious awards – the Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award.
"The strength of any university depends on its faculty," Milliken said, "and the four campuses of the University of Nebraska are home to some of the country's best."
Support for students and faculty is one of the top priorities of the Campaign for Nebraska. If you'd like to help UNMC's students and faculty, please consider giving online to the College of Medicine Alumni Association Scholarship Fund or the College of Medicine Education & Technology Excellence Fund. Or you could contact the foundation at 800-432-3216.