Dr. Florence Humanism Award

Dr. Joseph Florence Receives Prestigious Humanism in Medicine Award

Dr. Florence Joseph A. Florence IV, M.D., Professor and Director of Rural Programs with the ETSU Department of Family Medicine, was honored with the prestigious Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Clinical Faculty Award during the Quillen College of Medicine graduation ceremonies this May.

Sponsored by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, this award recognizes compassion and sensitivity in interaction with patients and the medical community. Recipients of this award serve as a role model to medical students and colleagues, communicate effectively and respectfully, are approachable and accessible to students, ensure patient comprehension, engender trust and confidence, and adhere to the highest ethical standards in their personal and professional lives.

Dr. Florence was nominated for this award by a group comprised of his colleagues, faculty, residents, and students, each who recognized him to be an individual who combines the best of humanism professionalism, and competence. In this nomination, they describe Dr. Florence as “one of those rare physicians that combine clinical competence with deep seated respect for patients, students, residents and colleagues. He brings together expertise in critical care medicine with empathic patient-centered communication.” This nomination addressed Dr. Florence’s gifts as a physician-educator:


He is an exceptionally strong role model and advocate for all students, especially those with an interest in rural primary care. As a preceptor at each of our 3 residency program clinics, Dr. Florence shares his expertise, rural and clinical, with students and residents. Not only does he effectively role model the life of a competent family physician throughout the region and around the world, he encourages learners at all levels to participate with him as he provides care to these diverse populations.. For several years Dr. Florence has taken medical students, nursing students, and others to Ecuador to participate in the care of people whose access to medical care is severely restricted. The combinations of rural track experiences combined with such international efforts are truly life transforming events for many students. Closer to home, he accompanies and supervises 6 groups of third year medical students each year when they provide physical examinations and other medical services via student conducted rural outreach clinics to medically underserved populations across Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.

One criteria noted for the award is approachability and accessibility to students. Dr. Florence does not wait for students to come to him (although he is always available to them); rather he seeks them out and engages them in a variety of medical and social events. At the rural outreach clinics, Dr. Florence travels, works, eats and lives with the students participating in these activities. Outside the classroom, Dr. Florence opens the doors to his house several times each year to bring students and faculty together in a variety of celebrations. Whether it’s the end of semester, Christmas or the end of the school year, Dr. Florence has created ceremony and tradition as one of the foundations of a life dedicated to humanism and professional excellence.”

We at the ETSU Department of Family Medicine are exceptionally proud of Dr. Florence, and fortunate for him to serve in the capacity of Director of Rural Programs.