Edward “Ward” Cook, DO
Central Region House Staff Resident Teacher of the Year Award
Edward “Ward” Cook, DO, was inspired by his own childhood doctor to be both a teacher and a pediatrician. Dr. Cook, who is finishing his pediatric residency and will remain at Geisinger to serve a year as chief resident, said his pediatrician taught him how to tie a tie and was a cornerstone of his childhood, extending beyond medical treatments including the “talk.” That early example has influenced his career ever since.
“If I didn’t go into medicine, I would have been a teacher,” Dr. Cook said, adding that he even took a “fifth year” at medial school to serve as a teaching fellow at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine. Although that passion for education is clearly why his peers chose him to receive a teaching award, Dr. Cook said he doesn’t really have a particular approach. He prefers to find out what motivates each individual learner.
“In medical culture, preventing burnout is critical,” he said. “I think we need to find the fun and encourage curiosity in medicine. Too often we lose sight of why we wanted to do this in the first place. I try to reinvigorate student and resident curiosity and encourage questions. I try to lead by example; to show that it’s OK to ask questions and to not know the answer or be wrong. If students leave each day happy, having learned something and with a smile on their face – that’s a win.”
One thing for which Dr. Cook strongly advocates is lifelong learning. “I always encourage students to keep reading. It’s so generic but it’s true: If you don’t know, look it up. We should always strive to learn more and to be comfortable not knowing everything.”
After his chief year, Dr. Cook intends to pursue a biochemical genetics fellowship which will allow him to specialize in caring for children with in-born errors of metabolism. It is a field he discovered recently this year while on rotation at the Clinic for Special Children in Lancaster, PA which cares for children of the Plains community focusing on those that have rare metabolic disorders. Diagnosing these conditions is fascinating because they can masquerade as other common pathology and managing metabolic crises, in my opinion, is beautiful clinical medicine. The field is also attractive because advances in research and treatment with new gene therapies will make it incredible in the next 10 to20 years,” he said.
The Central Region House Staff Resident Teacher of the Year Award is given based upon votes by peers who believe the winner is the best of the best in:
- Willingness to teach
- Effective use of constructive criticism
- Creative and innovative ways of implementing teaching strategies
- Differentiating instruction for each individual member that they work with
- Approachability for feedback and support
- Supports all areas of academic growth
- Exhibits care and compassion with patients