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Worcester MD a Finalist for Compassionate Caregiver Award

Friday, October 26, 2012

 

Dr. John Zawacki hugging a patient.

One UMass Memorial doctor has been named a finalist for the Schwartz Center Compassionate Caregiver Award.

John Zawacki, a gastroenterologist who cares for patients with Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome, is up for the prestigious award, which will be awarded at the Schwartz Center's Annual Dinner November 8th.

Zawacki got an early start in patient care, as he grew up in what he calls the "gated confines" of a Massachusetts state mental health institution. There, he learned compassion for patients from his father, a psychiatrist who treated the hospital's 1,500 residents.

"It was my father," he says, "who taught me more than any other person in my lifetime what it means to be a physician."

Zawacki graduated Tufts Medical School as chief resident, and was offered a teaching position in Boston. Instead, Zawacki chose to head west to Worcester. Now, Zawacki has served Central Mass residents for over 30 years, and has developed close relationships with may of us his patients.

Says one patient:
"I have come to know and completely trust Dr. Zawacki as a healer without equal. He is a compassionate man who gives tirelessly of himself and is an optimist for both of us even when all options conventional and clinical have been exhausted. He has never given up on me, and I honor him as a guardian angel on earth."

John has taught and mentored hundreds of medical students, residents and fellows. He often tells them,

"As long as you share your feelings and have good intentions, the words will come. It [being a doctor] is not a scripted experience."

He adds that the ability to connect with patients comes from "being comfortable with yourself, spiritually, emotionally and physically."

Should Zawacki take home the award, he will take home a $5,000 cash prize, and the knowledge that a medical review committee believes he is the doctor in Massachusetts that best displays compassion in caring for patients and families.

 

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