As a professor of Family and Community Medicine, Paul Hartung, Ph.D., carries on a family tradition of medicine. His father was a pathologist and twice President of the Lucas County Academy of Medicine in the 1970s and 1980s, while his grandfather served as a family physician and Ohio’s Director of Health in the 1930s.
Nearly 25 years ago, Dr. Hartung joined Northeast Ohio Medical University after being recruited by two founding faculty members: Dr. Glenn Saltzman and Dr. Mark Savickas. “I didn’t go into the practice of medicine, but I have continued my family legacy in in a different way — through medical education,” says Dr. Hartung.
When presented with NEOMED’s 2018 Outstanding Faculty Research Award earlier this year, Dr. Hartung was saluted for helping NEOMED students through a thoughtful process of choosing their career path — a topic that has occupied him for many years.
Guiding students to success
The moment first-year College of Medicine students step on campus, Dr. Hartung begins teaching the future physicians basic clinical skills, such as collecting patients’ medical history and conducting physical examinations.
“It’s an honor and privilege to be able to work with these students, who are in a really special situation. There are very few people who earn the opportunity — and I say that because they do earn it — to go to medical school, practice and become physicians,” says Dr. Hartung.
As a researcher, Dr. Hartung works to better understand how people’s careers intersect with their life stories. For example, he recalls one of the first research projects that he conducted at NEOMED with a medicine student summer fellow.
“As two very young people, of all things, we were focused on retirement. We were interested in how physicians adjust to life after a career in medicine,” says Dr. Hartung, a little amused now.
As it turns out, he’s still interested in topics like how a person makes their first career choice or chooses the right time to retire – and in helping students to understand the impact of those choices.
The question of well-being matters throughout a physician’s career, so Dr. Hartung is looking forward to this summer, when a research fellow and first-year College of Medicine student will work with him to research that topic.