Upstate Medical University presented 16 awards at its fall convocation Sept. 16. The President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, College of Medicine, Clinical Department, was given to Eugene A. Kaplan, MD. Below is his biography, as it appears in the convocation program.
By Stephanie DeJoseph
Dr. Eugene Kaplan has earned a well-deserved reputation, both international as well as national, as an innovative and influential leader in psychiatric graduate medical education. A member of Upstate’s faculty for more than half a century, he has had an illustrious career in which he has notably taught 3,500 medical students.
After Dr. Kaplan graduated from medical school, he completed his residency in Syracuse. In 1961, he joined the Upstate faculty and has held all the important formal positions in education. That same year, a new “Mixed Internship” program began, which was one of Dr. Kaplan’s special responsibilities as assistant coordinator of the Graduate Training Program. The internship consisted of two six-month rotations, one in medicine and the other in psychiatry, plus a transitional first year. This eventually became the standard in most psychiatry residency programs across the country. Dr. Kaplan authored an article describing the program that was published in the AMA Archives of General Psychiatry, now known as JAMA Psychiatry.
During the mid 1960s there was a growing interest in teaching a human sexuality course to medical students. Immensely popular, the elective was held in Weiskotten Hall to accommodate the attendance. In 1964, he was asked to serve as co-director of the medical student curriculum program in psychiatry. He co-created a groundbreaking course for medical students that was so successful that a number of other medical schools borrowed Upstate’s format to create similar programs. “I am delighted to support an outstanding teacher and mentor,” said a colleague.
Dr. Kaplan became director of the residency program in 1969, after serving as commander in the U.S. Naval Medical Corps from 1967 to 1969 at Bethesda Naval Hospital during the Vietnam War. As chair of the Upstate Psychiatry Department from 1984 to 1999, Dr. Kaplan expanded and improved our undergraduate and graduate teaching programs. He brought in many new faculty, encouraged the teaching of new therapies and helped organize and chair the largest teaching day in our history which brought more than 400 practitioners. Since resigning from his full-time position in 1999, he has remained an active part-time faculty member, serving in a teaching and administrative role.
He has served on the American Board of Psychiatry and as a visiting professor at one of the best outpatient training sites in the world, the Tavistock Clinic in London. He was also a visiting professor at Cornell University and the Sloane School’s Hospital Administrator Program. Over the years, he has been an invited lecturer internationally in the United Kingdom, Nepal and India as well as in the United States.
Dr. Kaplan is a 1954 magna cum laude graduate of Syracuse University and received an MD in 1957 from Upstate Medical Center, now known as Upstate Medical University.
“I speak for many generations of his students when I say that Dr. Kaplan has taught, inspired, illuminated and seduced us into the wonderful world of psychiatry. But our love and affection for you come from the easy generosity with which you have given us all your warmth, humor, friendship, talent, wisdom and entirely unfailing infectious enthusiasm. You are what we want to be when we grow up — an amazing role of a great psychiatrist and wonderful human being.”