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Keith Watson D.O.

Watson named Distinguished Osteopathic Surgeon

OU-COM administrator recognized for clinical and leadership skills

By Richard Heck

Nov. 2, 2009

Keith Watson, D.O., received the 2009 Distinguished Osteopathic Surgeon award from the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons (ACOS) at the organization’s Annual Clinical Assembly held in Chicago Saturday, Nov. 1. Watson is associate dean for graduate medical education and associate professor of surgery at the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-COM). 

“I am honored and humbled by this award,” Watson said. “A lot of people have influenced what I have been able to do, so we all stand on the shoulders of those who come before us.”

The Distinguished Osteopathic Surgeon Award is presented annually to an ACOS member to recognize outstanding accomplishments and leadership as a surgeon, educator or researcher.  

Kendall Reed, D.O., of the Des Moines University, nominated Watson for the award. “Dr. Watson is eminently qualified, based on his longstanding service to the osteopathic profession,” Reed wrote in his nomination letter. Reed is dean and professor of surgery at the Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine.  

“Although Dr. Watson’s academic credentials are impeccable, this is not what really defines him as a person.  He is (also) the kind of person that we all strive to be in our own lives,” Reed said.

According to Jeffrey Stanley, D.O. (’82), “it is hard enough to become a good surgeon today, and many individuals work their entire life just to achieve that goal.” Stanley added that Watson, meanwhile, excels as a surgeon, educator and medical school administrator. Stanley, chief of vascular surgery, chief of staff, and director of the vascular residency program at South Pointe Hospital in Cleveland, is a member of the Ohio University Foundation Board of Directors and the president of the OU-COM Society of Alumni and Friends.

During the past 20 years, Watson has served as a leader in osteopathic medical education, teaching surgery first at the Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, where he served as chair of the Department of Surgery, then at the Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine, where he was also associate dean for clinical affairs and project director of the college’s Standardized Performance Assessment Laboratory. 

“A couple of major concepts have driven my work beyond the operating room itself,” Watson said. “I feel a professional responsibility to build relationships with our allopathic colleagues and raise the profile of osteopathic medicine to more accurately reflect the excellence of our surgical profession. Above all, this effort is strengthened by the quality of our residents, interns and students. That’s why I work to constantly improve processes in graduate medical education. They are our future.” 

In addition to his positions at OU-COM, Watson serves as chair of the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) Council of Osteopathic Postgraduate Training Institutions. He is also the past chair of the board of directors for the Centers for Osteopathic Research and Education (CORE), OU-COM’s consortium of teaching hospitals throughout Ohio, which he helped bring to a national level of prominence.

“Dr. Watson is an outstanding educator, both pre- and postdoctoral, and I am proud that he is in Ohio,” said Alison Clarey, D.O. “He is fair, systematic, dedicated to his profession and has been a great mentor to me.” Clarey has worked with Watson for years through the American Osteopathic Board of Surgery.

In addition to Watson’s award, he was among several leaders in osteopathic surgery to receive Presidential Citations Saturday from Laurence H. Belkoff, D.O., FACOS, president of the ACOS Board of Officers and Governors. These citations recognize excellence efforts to promote osteopathic surgeons on the national scale. Watson’s and others’ meetings with leading national allopathic surgery organizations have resulted in greater recognition of osteopathic surgeons. 

Watson earned his D.O. degree at the University of North Texas Health Science Center—Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed an internship and general surgery residency at the Tulsa Regional Medical Center, followed by a surgical oncology fellowship at the University of Texas System Cancer Center—M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute in Houston.   

“Dr. Watson was a trailblazer in our profession when he did his surgical oncology training in Texas, which was one of the finest cancer hospitals at the time,” said OU-COM Dean Jack Brose, D.O. “He brought outstanding guidance to those who train new osteopathic surgeons.”

For his role in the development of the General Surgery In-Service Examination, Watson received an ACOS Presidential Recognition Award in 1994.  He has earned many other honors, including an AOA health policy fellowship in 1997 and a fellowship from the Association of Osteopathic Directors of Medical Educators. The American Osteopathic Foundation honored Watson with the AOA Educator of the Year award in 2008.

ACOS is a national organization of osteopathic surgeons dedicated to improving the care of the surgical patient and to safeguarding standards of care in an optimal and ethical practice environment.

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