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Family’s gift supports efforts of three pediatric clinicians

Sep. 8, 2022, 9:41 AM

From left are Sarah Jaser, PhD, John Long, MD, Lindsley Long, Rebecca Swan, MD, Steven Webber, MBChB, MRCP, Becky Long, Matt Long, Dan Garry and Emily Garry.
From left are Sarah Jaser, PhD, John Long, MD, Lindsley Long, Rebecca Swan, MD, Steven Webber, MBChB, MRCP, Becky Long, Matt Long, Dan Garry and Emily Garry. (photo by Susan Urmy)

by Nancy Humphrey

The legacy left behind by the late William (Bill) Long, MD, goes far beyond his many years as a beloved Nashville pediatrician. He was a quintessential clinician-educator, always helping advance the mission of Vanderbilt’s Department of Pediatrics and Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

The family of the longtime pediatrician at Old Harding Pediatric Associates, who died in June 2020, made a gift to establish the Dr. William R. Long Fund to support directorships, resident education, fellowships and psychologists in the Department of Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Through this fund, established by Long’s wife of 50 years, Rebecca (Becky), with her children and their spouses, Matt, Suzanne, John, Lindsley, Emily and Dan:

  • Rebecca Swan, MD, professor of Pediatrics, vice chair for Education in the Department of Pediatrics and assistant dean for Graduate Medical Education, has been appointed the inaugural holder of the Dr. William R. Long Directorship in Pediatric Medical Education.
  • Sarah Jaser, PhD, director of the Division of Pediatric Psychology and associate professor of Pediatrics, has been appointed the inaugural holder of the Dr. William R. Long Directorship in Pediatric Psychology.
  • Kelsey Gastineau, MD, a second-year fellow in Pediatric Hospital Medicine, has been awarded the inaugural Dr. William R. Long Fellowship.

“Dr. Long was a beloved community pediatrician who dedicated his long career to caring for thousands of children and their families in Nashville,” said Steven A. Webber, MBChB, MRCP, James C. Overall Professor, chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Pediatrician-in-Chief of Monroe Carell. “He had an intense passion for teaching, and through his practice, he welcomed countless Vanderbilt medical students and residents to observe and learn, while also exemplifying the vital role pediatricians play in a child’s health journey. We are forever grateful to Becky Long, and the entire Long family, for their tremendous generosity and for allowing his work and commitment to pediatric health care to endure through the support of these three outstanding clinicians.”

A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Long received his undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University in 1969, his medical degree from the University of Kentucky in 1973 and was a resident at Vanderbilt University Medical Center from 1973-1977. He joined Old Harding Pediatric Associates in June 1977, where he worked until his retirement in 2010. He valued the partnership between Vanderbilt and community pediatricians as early as his residency. When he was chief resident, he attended Grand Rounds, wrote a summary and distributed it to local pediatricians’ offices.

Becky Long said her husband was kind, thoughtful, smart and respectful to his patients, their families and his colleagues.

“He was totally devoted to his work and his family. He was also witty and fun. He developed personal relationships with his patients and their families and maintained long-term relationships with many of the families, even after their children outgrew the need for pediatric care,” she said.

“He was committed to helping them understand the sickness, disease or situation they were encountering. He wanted to empower them to be part of the solution, not just dictate to them what to do,” she said, adding that he was also close to the nurses in his office, explaining to them what he was doing and why as he treated the children in his practice.

Becky Long said establishing the fund was the perfect way to honor her husband. When he completed his house staff training, which included an optional fourth year as chief resident, he was torn between academic medicine and private practice.

“He chose private practice but remained closely tied to the teaching program at Monroe Carell, serving as an attending on the wards on a regular basis and teaching the third-year medical students. He faithfully attended the Thursday morning teaching conferences on his day off and loved the challenge of thinking about the difficult problems presented there,” she said.

Swan said the directorship will enable her to support her work strengthening as well as envisioning the future of the education mission of the department — including students, residents, fellows and faculty, how they are trained, how they teach and ways to improve and innovate.

“Holding the Dr. William R. Long Directorship in Pediatric Medical Education is a daily reminder to learn something new, to recognize every opportunity to teach someone, and to always keep patients and families as the focus. These actions were ingrained in how Dr. Long practiced medicine in our community, and it’s a true honor to have a connection to his legacy,” Swan said.

Jaser, who holds the Dr. William R. Long Directorship in Pediatric Psychology, said the directorship will allow her to support the psychologists in her division to share resources, offer mentorship and promote discovery.

“It also supports my research in children with Type 1 diabetes and their families focused on helping them cope with diabetes-related stress and communicate around diabetes management,” she said.

Jaser said that Long had a wonderful reputation in the community, and it’s an “incredible honor” to hold the directorship in his name.

“I chose this career to provide psychological support to even more families. I view this role as a privilege and responsibility to uphold Dr. Long’s legacy and vision for high quality, multidisciplinary care for children.”

Gastineau said the Long fellowship will allow her to continue actively engaging in immersive, intensive mentored research and experiential learning in the area of pediatric firearm injury prevention. That work, supported by the Long fellowship, will help inform practical, evidence-based strategies to decrease morbidity and mortality due to pediatric firearm injuries.

“I am immensely grateful for the opportunities afforded to me by the Dr. William R. Long Fellowship,” she said. “I have seen the positive impacts of scholarly work in many facets of patient care and know that when evidence-based strategies intersect with motivated advocacy, we can advance children’s health to an even higher standard. Dr. Long was an exemplar of this mindset, and by receiving this fellowship I am able to broaden the impact of my advocacy efforts in the area of pediatric injury prevention.”

Becky Long said her husband would wholeheartedly approve of the ways the fund is being used. “He was passionate about his work. He would be thrilled.”

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