UNM School of Medicine Celebrates Dr. Dan Derksen
The University of New Mexico School of Medicine is honoring Daniel Derksen, MD, this fall with its Leonard M. Napolitano, PhD, Award. Derksen has spent his career in New Mexico, and more recently Arizona, as a champion of health care access, coverage, workforce development, outcomes and policy, both locally and nationally.
The award, named after the medical school’s third dean, recognizes alumni who, like Napolitano, have shown innovation and commitment to medical education at UNM and in New Mexico.
Napolitano, who served as dean from 1972 to 1994, advocated for the health of New Mexicans through his dedication to medical education and clinical care, while building strong public and private partnerships. Napolitano’s numerous contributions and his value of knowing patients as people led to the development of the school’s nationally recognized primary care curriculum.
“Having known Dr. Napolitano when I was a resident and then as a faculty physician during my time at UNM, I’m honored to receive the Leonard M. Napolitano, PhD, Award,” Derksen says. “Len was passionate and deeply involved in all aspects of the School of Medicine, including informing state health policy at the New Mexico Legislature. He was a great role model for sustained commitment to health professions education and service over his decades of leadership.”
As a 25-year faculty member in UNM’s Department of Family & Community Medicine, Derksen established New Mexico’s health insurance marketplace working with New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez. He was also instrumental in developing provisions to improve the supply and distribution of the nation’s health workforce, enacted in 2010.
He arrived at UNM in 1985 as a family medicine resident and joined the medical school faculty in 1988. Over the next quarter century, he held numerous key UNM clinical, academic and policy posts in his tireless pursuit of high-quality health care for all in underserved and underrepresented regions.
A University of Arizona College of Medicine graduate, Derksen returned to UA in 2012 as director of the Arizona Center for Rural Health and a professor in the Community, Environment & Policy Department. The center partners with other state agencies and organizations to improve the health and wellness of rural underserved populations through service, research and education.
In August, he was appointed UA’s associate vice president for Health Equity, Outreach and Interprofessional Activities. He still maintains contact with the UNM School of Medicine and his UNM colleagues.
“Dan Derksen embodies the very essence of the Leonard M. Napolitano, PhD, Award,” says Amanda Bassett, the School of Medicine’s chief advancement and external relations officer.“Having roots here as a resident physician, and then his achievements as a clinician, professor, director, medical director, executive director, vice chair, chair and fellow speaks to his energy and continued commitment to UNM and New Mexico.”
Previous Napolitano Award honorees include:
· Nancy Joste, MD ’89 (2017)
· Karen Armitage, MD ’81 (2016)
· Valerie Romero-Leggott, MD ’92 (2015)
· Albert Kwan, MD ’83 (2014)
· Catherine McClain, MD ’88 (2013)
Derksen will receive his award at the School of Medicine’s 2018 Alumni Reunion Awards Banquet on Saturday, October 27, at the Sandia Resort Event Center.