A Biography of Dr. Applegate
William B. Applegate, MD, is president of Wake Forest University Health Sciences and former dean of the Wake Forest School of Medicine. He is recognized nationally and internationally as a remarkable physician and leader. He has served as chair of the Board of Regents of the American College of Physicians, the nation’s largest physician specialty professional society. He has been president of the American Geriatrics Society. He has been repeatedly named as one of America’s Best Doctors. He has been one of our leading medical scientists.
None of that is important.
I met Bill Applegate when he came to Wake Forest to interview for the chairmanship of Internal Medicine. His first words to me were an apology. He was the only candidate who didn’t have a briefcase. (He had lost it somewhere between Memphis and Winston-Salem, it seems.) He was carrying his important papers in a brown grocery store bag (Kroger’s, if I remember correctly). He apologized for the informality of the brown bag with a warm and wonderful smile. I couldn’t imagine anything finer than having a boss with the humility to carry his papers in a Kroger’s bag.
I was euphoric. A man of his stature and accomplishment who did not take himself too seriously! During that first interview, I discovered what we have all come to know and love about Bill Applegate: he is a man who is gentle in demeanor, soft-spoken, well-spoken, shy, self-effacing, open, sincere, modest, highly intelligent, insightful, curious, comforting, caring, sensitive, sensible, supportive, and generally marvelous.
I have never met a person who cares more for others than Bill Applegate. I have never known a man of higher integrity. I have had the unique privilege of serving him as a vice-chairman when Bill was a chairman, and serving as an associate dean when Bill became the dean. I would proudly serve as his assistant dogcatcher if he became chief dogcatcher, and I would become a better person for doing so.
At heart, Bill Applegate is the quintessential healer and humanist, a man who leads us and educates us through the generosity of his own example. Bill, a private man, was willing to share his own medical experiences with all of us (for all of us) on his Infinet blog as he went through a difficult illness. The student editors of Oasis and I are pleased that we have convinced him to continue the special conversation that he started in his blog through a special Oasis column, Essays on Caring and Courage: Examples from Patients and Providers.
We all have much to learn from each other and from our patients. Bill will do some of the writing to get us started, but he will also recruit others to contribute. We are surrounded by examples of caring and courage, and Bill Applegate will help us recognize and celebrate the wonder of what we do, as patients and providers, every single day.
K. Patrick Ober, MD
Faculty Advisor, Oasis