A pioneering researcher, educator, leader and administrator who made an indelible mark on the specialty of Anesthesiology, Dr. Hamilton was the first chair of the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Iowa and developed the nation’s finest academic medicine department at the University of California – San Francisco.
The anesthesia specialty has changed a lot since William K. Hamilton first entered the field more than 60 years ago. In many ways, Hamilton didn’t just witness those changes, but helped create them.
Hamilton’s influence is felt at both The University of Iowa, where he was professor and chair of the department from 1958 to 1967, and at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), where he was professor and chair of the department of anesthesia for 16 years and served posts as vice dean, associate dean for clinical affairs, and associate dean for postdoctoral education. Since 1992, he has been professor emeritus at UCSF.
His impact is still felt today at the UI. Due largely to his efforts, what was once the UI Anesthesia Division is now a department, and his work to organize efforts between UIHC administration and the Departments of Medicine and Surgery resulted in the UI Hospitals and Clinics’ first intensive care unit. In 1967, Hamilton was recruited to the USCF where he stayed the remainder of his career.
“What I’m most proud of is the continued development of two departments at two very fine universities,” he said. “I’m also very proud of the relationships I now have with ex-residents who trained with me throughout the United States. My day-to-day joy comes from that more than anything else.”
Hamilton has been recognized with many honors and awards, including the teaching award from the 1965 UI senior medical class, the Royal Society of Medicine Medal, and the American Society of Anesthesiologists Distinguished Service Award. A distinguished professorship in anesthesia was established in his name at UCSF, and in 1996, he received the UI Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award for Achievement.
“I’m very proud of the UI medical school, and I’m very proud to be recognized by that institution,” he said. “To be judged by your own peers is probably the nicest honor to have had. I have maintained an abiding love and respect for the UI. It’s home to me still.”
The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor that the UI Carver College of Medicine bestows upon its outstanding graduates. Established in 1998, this awards program recognizes our former students and colleagues who have transcended their fundamental roles as health care providers, scientists and educators to become influential participants in the advancement of the art and science of medicine. Excellence in these areas brings pride and distinction to The University of Iowa and our Carver College of Medicine.
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