Last modified: Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Ahdy W. Helmy, M.D.
Presidentís Award -- Founders Day 2007
Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine
Department of Medicine
School of Medicine
University Graduate School
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Appointed to IU faculty, 1995
M.B.B.Ch., Alexandria University (Egypt), 1981
Ph.D., Alexandria University (Egypt), 1992
As the son of a high school science teacher in Alexandria, Egypt, Ahdy Helmy developed a passion for education at
an early age. But he also felt drawn to medicine, driven by a desire to heal and to serve the suffering. He soon figured out a way to combine the two fields—and since that time, he has devoted his life to practicing and teaching the profession of medicine.
"Truly it is a privilege to interact with young minds, to be able to shape their intellectual experience and influence it in a positive manner, without masking their personal imprint or the individuality of their thought processes," he says.
Helmy's students and colleagues say that the privilege is theirs. Over and over again, students and faculty alike emphasize how fortunate they are to have the opportunity to work with the man described by former student Patrick S. Hayden, now attending nephrologist with Nephrology Associates of Kentuckiana, as "the consummate clinician, a superior educator, and a true friend."
As an associate professor of clinical medicine at the IU School of Medicine, Helmy, whose specialty is internal medicine, serves as teacher, advisor, mentor, and role model to learners at all levels of medical education, including medical students, residents, and fellows. Whether working one-on-one with endocrinology fellows or delivering lectures to medical students, he seizes every opportunity to increase his students' active learning. He believes in teaching by example, and he tries to model respectful interaction with patients.
"I work with the patients as partners to teach my trainees about the lived experience of sickness, from simple colds to terminal cancers, and try to model interactions that are empathetic and person-to-person, not just doctor-to-patient," he says.
It is clear that Helmy's students respond to his approach. His teaching evaluations are filled with words such as "amazing," "exceptional," "excellent," "wonderful," "top-notch," and "awesome." While he is renowned for his extensive medical knowledge (often referred to as "encyclopedic") and superior clinical skills, he is most highly regarded for his professionalism and rapport with patients.
"Dr. Helmy has an exceedingly strong personal respect and love for the art and science of teaching," says Richard M. Dexter, professor emeritus of medicine. "He is renowned for his mastery of the art of physical examination, and for his role-modeling as a compassionate physician."
"For his learners he models and requires integrity, honesty, industry, and patience," adds Timothy J. Broach, a former student who was a chief resident at Wishard Memorial Hospital and is now an attending at Methodist Hospital.
Helmy's contributions to medical education go beyond his teaching. In 2001, he co-founded the Primary-care Interdisciplinary Medical Education (PRIME) Clinic at the Richard L. Roudebush Veterans Administration Medical Center in Indianapolis. The monthly clinic, which sees patients with complex medical, social, and pharmacy needs, provides a cooperative interdisciplinary clinical environment for internal medicine residents, social work students, and pharmacy students. Helmy has organized the clinic and supervised internal medicine residents there since its inception.
"Not only has he positively impacted many individual learners by his excellent teaching, but he has also made significant contributions at the programmatic level to benefit all learners," says T. Robert Vu, assistant professor of clinical medicine at the IU School of Medicine.
Helmy has been widely recognized for his exceptional teaching. He has been honored with the Department of Medicine Distinguished Teaching Award (1997), the Trustees Teaching Award (1998, 2000, and 2005), the General Internal Medicine/Geriatrics Division Outstanding Teacher Award (2001), the Outstanding Professor in Clinical Sciences Award (2003 and 2004), and the School of Medicine Teaching Award (2005). He is also a three-time recipient of the Outstanding Educator Award (1999, 2003, and 2006), which is given by the departing class of IU School of Medicine senior residents to the faculty member who has contributed most significantly to their education during their residency.
"Dr. Helmy demonstrates an unparalleled enthusiasm for teaching," says former student Anthony Rose, now a fellow in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the IU Medical Center. "I regard him as an excellent teacher, mentor, and role model for all who aspire to be true teaching physicians."