Dr. Faith Thayer Fitzgerald devoted her career to educating the next generation of physicians. "I try to exemplify to students and house staff the exhilaration of medicine, the honor and awesome responsibility of patient trust and the beauty of the scientific thought process," she said. She won more than thirty teaching awards for her work on the art and science of medicine, and she held the highest standards for herself and her students.
"The core value of physicians," wrote Dr. Fitzgerald in a New York Academy of Sciences article in 2002, "[is] to serve their individual patients as best they can with the resources available and to seek for better ways to do sothat is the enduring and essential lesson of medical education."
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Dr. Fitzgerald knew from early childhood that she would be a physician. Working to support herself and her education from the age of 14, Dr. Fitzgerald built her career in the University of California school system she graduated from. After completing undergraduate studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Dr. Fitzgerald went directly on to the University of California, San Francisco, where she received her M.D. degree in 1969. She remained at the University of California, San Francisco, for her residency in internal medicine and for her first position as instructor of medicine. In 1978 she left California and spent two years as assistant professor of medicine at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In1980 Dr. Fitzgerald began her teaching at the University of California, Davis, where she served 38 years as professor of medicine, assistant dean of student affairs and acting chair of the Department of Dermatology.
At the University of California, Davis, Dr. Fitzgerald received over three dozen teaching awards. In 2002 she received the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society's Robert J. Glaser Award for providing medical students with an outstanding educational experience. Additional teaching awards include the American College of Physicians Distinguished Teacher Award, the California Medical Association Golden Apple Award and the University of California, San Francisco Gold Headed Cane. In addition to this national and regional recognition, medical students and faculty voted repeatedly to award Dr. Fitzgerald with their highest honors. She was chosen as the University of California, Davis, Senior Class Outstanding Clinical Teacher seven times and she was named the Department of Medicine Distinguished Faculty Teacher on four separate occasions.
Noted for holding herself and her students to the highest ethical and professional standards, Dr. Fitzgerald shared her knowledge and philosophy with students throughout the world. She served as visiting professor and lecturer in thirty states in the United States and ten foreign countries. A master of the American College of Physicians, Dr. Fitzgerald cited Hibbard Williams, M.D., as her mentor. "His gift was a perpetual manifest joy in doing medicine, in teaching, and a continual aspiration to excellence." Educating the next generation of physicians, Dr. Fitzgerald upheld those same values and was committed to the highest standards in medical education.