Upon Dr. Mark Gelbard’s retirement, his colleagues praise his distinguished career as a physician and educator
By Bob Woods
Photograph by Tom Salyer
Dr. Mark Gelbard
f the 1960s TV icons that might have influenced a young Mark Gelbard growing up in Brooklyn, New York — Perry Mason, Andy Taylor, Rob Petrie, Maxwell Smart, et al. — the Miller School is fortunate that he emulated Marcus Welby, M.D. “He was hardworking, well-meaning, sincere and interested in his patients,” said an all-grown-up Mark Gelbard, M.D., of the fictional doctor.
Today, as he retires after 46 years at the Miller School and UHealth, much the same is being said about Dr. Gelbard.
Before the accolades, though, let us return to yesteryear, specifically 1976. Dr. Gelbard had finished medical school at New York University and was accepted as an intern in internal medicine at the University of Miami and its affiliated hospitals. “I didn’t intend to stay,” he admitted, but grew enamored of “the varied community, with a multinational population and culture, as well as the University and medical center.” He also was attracted to Susan Ervin, RN, an oncology nurse whom he met while interning at Jackson Memorial Hospital. They married two years later and had two children.
Dr. Gelbard completed his residency at UM, then in 1979 was appointed chief medical resident. “From the very beginning, he stood out as someone who was committed to learning and to using science in his decision-making about patients,” said Laurence Gardner, M.D., who initially was Dr. Gelbard’s teacher and supervisor and ultimately his colleague in the Miller School’s Division of General Internal Medicine.
Over the next four decades, Dr. Gelbard advanced as not only an admired physician but also as a respected and sought-after associate professor of medicine, rising to director of the division’s residency training program in 1984 and its vice chairman of education from 2006 to 2014. “I certainly was dedicated to patient care, but it was educating and training the next generations that was most rewarding,” he said. Indeed, more than 1,000 residents have benefited from his tutelage, many of whom remained in the Miami community or relocated to medical centers across the United States and Latin America.
“Many of our physicians who trained here have told me how he personally affected their career choice to become an internist and work at the Miller School,” said Olveen Carrasquillo, M.D., M.P.H., professor of medicine and public health sciences. “In the past several years, he also played a key role helping lead the M.D. component of the M.D./M.P.H. curriculum and was one of the visionary forces behind the revamping and reshaping of what we now call the NextGenMD curriculum.” Added another faculty member, Alejandro D. Chediak, M.D., interim chief of GIM, “Mark has been an exemplary physician, gifted educator and trusted colleague.”
At 72, Dr. Gelbard had not planned to retire now and takes pride in the fact that “I never missed a day of work in all my years here,” he said. But two spine surgeries in 10 months have impacted his ambulation and balance, to the point where he’s voluntarily stepped down — for the time being. If, down the road, he’s physically able, “I certainly think I could teach and probably do some consulting,” he said.
Anticipating an official retirement event at the school, the lifelong New York Yankees fan harks back to another admired figure, Yogi Berra, who when feted uttered an inimitable Yogi-ism that the self-effacing Dr. Gelbard finds appropriate: “I want to thank everyone for making this day necessary.”