2012 Distinguished Alumnus

Gregg A. Heatley, MD

Dr. Barney is chief of the Cornea Service at the UW. Dr. Heatley completed his residency in 1991 and his glaucoma fellowship in 1992, both at Wisconsin, where, in addition to a busy glaucoma practice, he is vice chair for Clinical Affairs in the Department. Dr. Castrovinci, president of the Alumni Association, completed his residency in 1977 and is in private practice.

During the 20 years Gregg A. Heatley, MD, has worked in the University of Wisconsin Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, there has been significant evolution in his practice, his work and his position. Despite being the fourth glaucoma specialist in the department, housed in the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, he quickly developed a very busy glaucoma practice and continued to see comprehensive eye care patients. He became a strong source of expertise for difficult glaucoma surgical management as well as medical management and received referrals from a wide area within our region. However, this is what those who had mentored him knew he would do and in some sense, this was not unexpected.

Dr. Heatley’s capabilities are broad ranging and he first brought this to the department’s attention by taking on the very difficult task of managing the education of the medical students from the School of Medicine and Public Health. This involved all contact the department has with Years 1, 3 and 4 students, with each year having different requirements. Ultimately, he settled in on working in the area of special senses as taught to the first-year medical students through their neurosciences course. To this day, he continues to lecture within that medical student course and continues to receive the highest marks for his lecture capabilities. He worked diligently with the basic scientists who run the course to work through changing the course curriculum but tightly held to the need for there to be the special sense of vision within the course. He developed a small group session with these first-year students to allow integration of their basic science knowledge with clinical cases. This was a large task to organize, requiring multiple faculty to be available to oversee these small groups. Dr. Heatley was ultimately recognized by the medical students for his teaching efforts and was awarded the “Dean’s Teaching Award” in 2001.

What I most witnessed about Dr. Heatley is that development of expertise as a clinician or a refinement of a high-level educational process are merely tasks or goals that he can set his sights on and accomplish readily. He really has a career path that has diverged and allowed him to take his interests and abilities into the medical management arena. This started as he took on the responsibility of being the Vice Chair of Clinical Affairs within the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. This has evolved to be an important role and one in which he serves as a shepherd for the entire department through the ever-changing landscape of healthcare delivery and management of healthcare economics. He is forward thinking in this area and has been instrumental in keeping the department ahead of the curve with regard to changes that we all experience through the ever-changing regulatory issues of health care. But this really was another area that he came to quickly master and was noted by the University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation, the physicians group, to have great expertise in the arena of medical management. For this reason, he has been the chair of the Operations Committee for this medical foundation group. This puts him in a very senior leadership role that covers all aspects of the very diverse, very large practice of an 800-plus member group of physicians. While ordinarily this position is one (as in any committee) in which he would rotate off as chairman, he has been requested by the senior leadership within the hospital, the medical school and the physician group to stay on as the chairman of this committee indefinitely.

Dr. Heatley has distinguished himself not only as a clinician but has also chosen to become involved in many additional faculty activities. His commitment to his patients, the larger organization in which he works as well as his commitments outside of the university make him an ideal candidate to receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award. There could be no better example to our trainees and medical students of the commitment that one makes when becoming a faculty member at a University Medical Center.