As Dick Krugman tells it, Henry Silver, MD, made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. It was June, 1972 and Krugman was finishing his first year of required service at the National Institutes of Health. He was trying to land a position back in Denver in the Department of Pediatrics where he had finished his three years of residency training in 1971. Krugman had talked with C. Henry Kempe, MD, the Chair of the Department of Pediatrics about returning to Denver, and Dr. Kempe had offered a position teaching pediatrics in the Family Medicine Residency Program. Dr. Krugman accepted immediately because teaching and doing primary care pediatrics was something he enjoyed. A few days later, Krugman received a call from Dr. Silver asking him if he would be interested in working with him in the Child Health Associate Program. Krugman said that he had told Dr. Kempe he would work with Family Medicine. But after learning more about Dr. Silver’s vision to reform medical education he instead chose to work with the Child Health Associate/PA Program, and became its Director of Admissions and Head of the Internship year in 1973.
Krugman describes the effort to help CHA’s become known and get positions throughout the U.S .as “being like a salesman” for the program. He would cold call the state and national leadership of the Academy of Pediatrics and offer them the opportunity to have an intern participate in a 1-2 month rotation, at the program’s expense. Two weeks after the intern started Krugman would visit the clinical site to see how things were going and often give rounds at the hospital or university to talk about what a PA was and what they could do.
In the 1980’s, Dr. Krugman became director of the Kempe National Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect and both trained and later hired several CHA/PA’s to work in the child abuse program. He was about to begin a sabbatical to study child protection systems in Europe, when the Chancellor of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and selected him as Acting Dean (1990-1992) and then Dean (1992-2015) of the University of Colorado School of Medicine. As Dean, Dr. Krugman chaired a school-wide task force on curriculum reform, and in 2005 fulfilled Dr. Silver’s, and his dream, of having a medical school curriculum that incorporated some of the basic principles that the CHA Program fostered: longitudinal 3 year experience following families and patients, training in communication skills and early and extensive mentored clinical experiences.
During his time at CU, Krugman was able to attend 38 of the 43 graduations that occurred between 1972 and 2015. He was there for the initial entry of the first nine students, and watched the 1,000th graduate of the program receive her degree in 2013. Dr. Krugman supported the development of the rural track, the master’s program and the integration of the program and its students into the Anschutz Campus’ nationally known interdisciplinary education program that included eight different health professional programs’ students in a two year IPE curriculum. In March, 2015, after nearly 25 years in the Dean’s Office, he returned to the Kempe Center and began the sabbatical he wanted to take in 1990, studying differing models of child protection systems in the US and Europe. Upon Dr. Krugman’s return from his sabbatical in Europe, the Child Health Associate/Physician Associate Program honored him with its first Henry K. Silver Award for “significant commitment to the Child Health Associate/Physician Assistant Program in recognition of extraordinary leadership and dedication to advancing the vision of Dr. Silver for the benefit of all.” The dinner, held at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science on October 3, 2015, was attended by more than one hundred alumni of the program, many of whom were mentored by Dr. Krugman during his career at the University of Colorado. He has been a tremendous advocate for the CHA/PA program and the PA profession since the very early days of the profession.
Acknowledgments:This biography was written by Richard “Dick” Krugman with the assistance of Jonathan Bowser, MS, PA-C, and Alfred M. Sadler, Jr., MD. His biography was submitted to the Society in February 2016. The photographs are courtesy of Dr. Krugman.