University of Vermont

First to Receive Top National Honor from Federation of Pediatrics Organizations

Lewis First, M.D., M.S., F.A.A.P., Professor and Chair of Pediatrics
Lewis First, M.D., M.S., F.A.A.P., Professor and Chair of Pediatrics. (Photo: Raj Chawla/UVM Med Photo)

The Federation of Pediatric Organizations (FOPO) has announced that Lewis R. First, M.D., M.S., F.A.A.P., professor and chair of pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine and chief of pediatrics at Vermont Children’s Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care, has been selected as the 2014 recipient of the Joseph W. St. Geme, Jr. Leadership Award – considered the highest honor in the field of pediatrics.

FOPO, a coalition of the nation’s seven major pediatric organizations, recognizes only one physician per year for broad and sustained contributions to pediatrics that have had or will have a major impact on child health. Most importantly, the award recognizes those individuals who have “created a future.”

The award honors the late Joseph W. St. Geme, Jr., M.D., a pediatrician dedicated to the ideal of excellence and the goal of improving health care for all children now and in the future. St. Geme held leadership roles with all seven of the organizations that make up FOPO – American Pediatric Society, the Society for Pediatric Research, the Association of Pediatric Program Directors, the Academic Pediatric Association, the American Board of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs.

“Dr. First is the perfect recipient of the Joseph W. St. Geme Jr. Leadership Award,” says Theodore Sectish, M.D., executive director of FOPO and professor of pediatrics, vice-chair for education and program director of the pediatric residency training program at Boston Children’s Hospital. “He is an outstanding educator and clinician, an influential national leader for educational policy and professional certification, and an editor of the highest impact general pediatric peer-reviewed journal and one of the top-selling pediatric textbooks.”

First, who joined UVM/Fletcher Allen in 1994, is currently one of the longest-standing pediatric department chairs in the U.S. He is widely recognized for his teaching and education contributions and as a leader in the field of pediatrics and is the recipient of 62 awards and honors, including the Association of American Medical Colleges’ 2002 Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher Award, the 2006 National Education Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Academic Pediatric Association’s 2007 Miller Sarkin Mentoring Award. Editor-in-chief of the journal Pediatrics since 2009, First is currently in his second term as chair of the executive board of the National Board of Medical Examiners, also serving as chair of the Education Committee of the Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs, and is co-editor of the 22nd Edition of Rudolph’s Textbook of Pediatrics. In addition, for more than 17 years, he has offered medical advice to parents through his “First with Kids” weekly radio and television news segments and Vermont community newspaper columns.

A Harvard Medical School graduate, First completed an internship and residency in pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital, serving as chief resident from 1983 to 1984. He completed a clinical fellowship in ambulatory and emergency pediatrics at Children’s, concurrently obtaining an M.S. degree in epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health. A Harvard faculty member from 1985 to 1994, he held many leadership positions, including director of education for the Division of General Pediatrics, and director of medical student pediatric education in the Department of Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital.

First will receive the award on May 3, 2014 during the Opening General Session of the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting in Vancouver, Canada.

FOPO is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to promote optimal health for children by uniting the efforts and expertise of its member organizations to accomplish shared goals.

(This announcement was adapted from a news release produced by the Federation of Pediatric Organizations.)