Pérez honored for excellence in teaching

Julio E. Pérez, MD, professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has received multiple honors this year for excellence in teaching.

The School of Medicine, the American College of Cardiology and the American Society of Echocardiography each have recognized Pérez as a gifted educator and mentor in the field of cardiology.

The School of Medicine awarded him the 2013 Distinguished Educator Award for excellence in mentoring clinical fellows. The American College of Cardiology (ACC) honored him with the 2013 Gifted Educator Award. And at a ceremony June 30 in Minneapolis, he will receive the Richard Popp Excellence in Teaching Award from the American Society of Echocardiography.

In a letter informing Pérez of the ACC honor, the organization’s president, William A. Zoghbi, MD, noted Pérez’s “innovative, outstanding teaching characteristics and compassionate qualities.

“Because of these attributes,” Zoghbi wrote, “you have made major contributions to the field of cardiovascular medicine.”

Originally from Puerto Rico, Pérez earned a medical degree from the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine in 1973 and continued his medical training, focusing on cardiology, at the Veterans Administration Hospital in San Juan. He came to Washington University and Barnes Hospital in 1978 through a cardiovascular research fellowship and joined the faculty as an assistant professor of medicine in 1980. He has served as director of echocardiography since 1985 and became a full professor in 1992.

In nominating Pérez for the ACC’s Gifted Educator Award, Linda R. Peterson, MD, associate professor of medicine, said of him: “Anyone who has heard Julio lecture, watched him perform or watched him read an echocardiogram is a better physician because of it. He sets himself apart in the exceptional respect he gives to anyone he teaches.”

According to Peterson, Pérez has taught more than 300 cardiology fellows at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and established an education conference to keep up to date on the latest breakthroughs in the field. To ensure the information is widely available, she said he makes sure it is live-streamed to other hospitals in the region.

Peterson also emphasized the widespread influence Pérez has had in developing Spanish-speaking countries, where he has traveled to lecture. Further, she noted, doctors from around the world travel to St. Louis to learn from him.

“Julio has a Socratic way of teaching,” she said. “He always makes it seem like you knew all along what the finding was and that he was just prompting you to remember. He is a gifted teacher and a gentleman.”

Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient-care institutions in the nation, currently ranked sixth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.