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De Fer named director of Division of General Medicine

Longtime mentor to students, residents has played myriad roles in medical education

by Gerry EverdingNovember 24, 2021

Matt Miller

Thomas M. De Fer, MD, a nationally recognized leader in medical education, has been named director of the Division of General Medicine within the Department of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

A member of the School of Medicine faculty for nearly three decades, De Fer has served as interim director of the division since September 2019. He also serves as the school’s associate dean for medical student education.

“We are very fortunate to have Dr. De Fer accept this leadership role,” said Victoria J. Fraser, MD, the Adolphus Busch Professor and head of the Department of Medicine. “He is a distinguished educator and outstanding leader who has played very important roles in running the Internal Medicine Clerkship.”

A St. Louis native, De Fer earned his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Missouri in Columbia. He completed his residency in internal medicine at what was then Jewish Hospital in St. Louis and has had additional training in clinical education, health-care innovation and leadership through the Stanford Faculty Development Seminars Program, the Harvard Macy Institute, and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Boston.

The mission of the Division of General Medicine is to provide the highest quality patient care, to educate and train physicians of the highest caliber, and to conduct research, all in the context of academic primary care internal medicine. Patient care is provided at the Center of Outpatient Health, Washington University Complete Care, and Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Undergraduate and graduate education in internal medicine is administratively housed within the Division of General Medicine, and the majority of its faculty are extensively involved in the School of Medicine’s education mission.

“I am looking forward to working with the division’s wonderful faculty, staff and its learners to enhance and expand the mission of the division,” De Fer said.

De Fer has extensive experience mentoring medical students and residents at the School of Medicine, including decades-long roles as director of the Internal Medicine Clerkship; as course director for the Honors Medicine Sub-Internship; and as director of the Ambulatory Care Experience for Students Program.

His academic interests include curriculum development, the evaluation of grading practices, student assessment, and issues of equity and objectivity in medical education. He has been active in revising the school’s programs for medical students, residents, and continuing education, including development of the school’s recently launched Gateway Curriculum.

De Fer’s contributions to medical education have been recognized with the Samuel R. Goldstein Leadership Award in Medical Student Education from the School of Medicine, and the Ruth-Marie Fincher, MD, Service Award from Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine and the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine. He has been recognized multiple times with the Sydney S. Pearl Award for Inspirational Teaching and as the Clinical Lecturer of the Year. He’s been honored as Clerkship Director of the Year for almost two decades and as Clinical Teacher of the Year more than 10 times.

De Fer also has published extensively on medical education, including serving as executive editor of The Washington Manual family of products. This series of publications has a long history and a global reach. It consists of over a dozen individual books, including the flagship “Washington Manual of Medical Therapeutics,” now in its 36th edition.

Washington University School of Medicine’s 1,700 faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is a leader in medical research, teaching and patient care, consistently ranking among the top medical schools 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.