December 10, 2004

Boehm’s commitment, service recognized

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Frank Boehm, M.D., holding his 18-month-old grandson Seth Boehm, was all smiles after being honored at the 30th Annual High-Risk Obstetrics Conference. On hand for the event were, from left, Connie Graves, M.D., interim director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine; Steven Gabbe, M.D., dean of VUSM; Stephen Entman, M.D., chair of OB/GYN; and Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs.
photo by Dana Johnson

Boehm’s commitment, service recognized

Frank H. Boehm, M.D., who has been credited with bringing modern obstetrics to Vanderbilt, Nashville and Middle Tennessee, was honored last Friday at the 30th Annual High-Risk Obstetrics Seminar at Vanderbilt University Medical Center for his commitment to the practice of obstetrics over the past 32 years.

Boehm, professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, who co-directs the seminar, stepped down recently as director of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine. He is remaining on the faculty half-time to concentrate on teaching, research and writing a second book. He published a collection of essays, Doctors Cry, Too in 2001.

Connie Graves, M.D., associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and assistant dean for Diversity in Medical Education, has been appointed interim director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

The two-day high-risk obstetrics seminar attracts doctors and nurses from all over Tennessee and the Southeast, is the longest running continuing medical education seminar at Vanderbilt, and is the longest running and most attended post-graduate obstetrics course in America, Boehm says. Physicians receive credit on their malpractice insurance for participating in the conference.

Stephen S. Entman, M.D., professor and chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology, recognized Boehm's achievements at the conference, which attracts about 500 participants each year.

“As I look out at this large group of conference participants, it reminds me of the reasons I came to Vanderbilt. Twenty-five years ago, Frank Boehm had invited me to look at a faculty position. I arrived in time for morning OB rounds. It was an inspiring experience,” he said. “The commitment to education was obvious, but more than that, there was a remarkable emphasis on multidisciplinary participation in the educational process with attending physicians, residents, students, nurses, anesthesiologists and neonatologists. Those commitments are reflected here today, a terrific educational program provided to a broad base of professionals committed to the care of mothers and infants.

“For many of you, this is one of a handful of Continuing Education opportunities during the year. I have been lucky. With Frank Boehm as a colleague for all these years, I have benefited from continuing education every day.”

At the Friday portion of the conference, Boehm received a citation from Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, proclaiming the day “Frank Boehm Day” and Graves announced the establishment of a new ob/gyn resident teaching award in compassion and excellence in obstetrical care, to be given each year in Boehm's name.

Boehm, who graduated from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 1965, joined the faculty in 1972, co-directed the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine when it began in 1978 and in 1980 became the first director of the division. Boehm said he decided to step down because it was time.

During his time at Vanderbilt he has overseen or been involved in fetal monitoring research, the fetal surgery program, bringing ultrasound to the bedside of obstetric patients and the Perinatal Regional Intervention Program.

“I've been doing this for 24 years and like anything else, it has to come to an end. I felt it was time. I could just feel it. Once I got into my 60s, I could feel it creeping over me ever so slowly, that it's time to let someone else do this work. It's time for new energy, ideas and visions,” he said, adding that he is happy to see Graves leading the division on an interim basis.

“She's an incredibly gifted physician. I've worked with her since her residency,” he said.

“Vanderbilt is at a great place in women's health care,” Graves said. “This is an opportunity for me to make more of an impact on the obstetrical treatment of women.”

Graves has worked with Boehm since 1987, as a resident, fellow and faculty member. “I think Frank is one of those rare individuals who measures his success not by what he has accomplished, but by what the people around him have accomplished. I've learned so much from him, not so much the knowledge of obstetrics, but the art.”