Gastroenterologist Dr. David Hockenbery is this year’s recipient of the Dr. Ali Al-Johani Award, which is given to recognize individuals at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center who provide exceptional medical care and compassion for their patients.
Since 2001, the Hutch’s Clinical Research Division faculty have nominated a member for the award, which was established by a former leukemia patient, Dr. Ali Al-Johani, with a contribution in gratitude for the excellent patient care he received.
Hockenbery accepted the award on April 12 at Fred Hutch during a virtual ceremony hosted by Dr. Nancy Davidson, executive vice president for clinical affairs, and senior vice president of the Clinical Research Division. She is holder of the Raisbeck Endowed Chair for Collaborative Research.
"We received a number of nominations for you that reiterate many of the same things, the excellence of your care, the way you're so responsive to patients’ families and your fellow colleagues,” Davidson said during the presentation. “They talked about your availability day and night to tackle really complex gastroenterology related questions. We're so happy to be able to provide the award to you today."
Hockenbery is the head of Fred Hutch’s gastroenterology clinical program, with much of his time focused on patient care in what is currently his 30th year at Fred Hutch. More than anything, Hockenbery said he considers himself part of a larger team working together to improve patient outcomes.
“I love being at Fred Hutch, where I can see a patient and then immediately walk upstairs and talk with the transplant team or look at biopsy specimens or sit down with the radiologist,” Hockenbery said in an interview after hearing news of his nomination. “Coordination of care is taken seriously.”
Those who nominated him for this award lauded his compassion and willingness to be available to his colleagues.
“He is approachable, extremely knowledgeable, up to date, but most of all caring for our patient population. He is truly deserving of this award,” wrote one colleague.
Nominees are selected by their fellow caregivers and the awardee chosen by a committee that includes the clinical research division director and representatives from nursing, clinical faculty, and quality and patient services.
Hockenbery noted that he has been amazed by the progress made in cancer research since his first experiences with transplantation three decades ago. His first exposure to transplantation was during his time as a resident at John Hopkins, observing the multi-disciplinary bone marrow transplantation team. He was immediately drawn to the idea of a team approach where roles are coordinated to provide the best care.
Hockenbery doesn’t want his patients to be strangers, but instead be part of the team working together. He hopes to see all his patients again at reunions, which gives him great inspiration in his everyday work.
“I always say to patients, ‘I hope I don’t see you again, but if you need me, I am right there,’” he said. “I do hope to see you living your life out in the world.”
Hockenbery described the award as especially impactful, because the nominations came from peers, nurses, and many others from the team.
“I would like to thank the patients, who inspire me with their bravery as they go down this journey and all the physicians whose tireless efforts have taught me how to deliver great care to patients,” Hockenbery said during the ceremony. “I am tremendously honored to receive this unique award.”
The Dr. Ali Al-Johani Award comes with a cash prize and a crystal plaque, previous winners include:
2002 — Dr. Bob Witherspoon
2003 — Dr. Mary Flowers
2004 — Dr. Mike Linenberger
2006 — Dr. Paul Carpenter
2007 — Dr. Paul O’Donnell
2010 — Dr. Kris Doney
2011 — Dr. Jean Sanders
2012 — Dr. George B. McDonald
2013 — Dr. Colleen Delaney
2014 — Dr. Merav Bar
2016 — Dr. Bart Scott
2017 — Dr. Oliver “Ollie” Press
2018 — Dr. Steven Pergam
2019 — Dr. Laura Connelly-Smith
2020 — Dr. Guang-Shing Cheng
2021 — Dr. Mazyar Shadman
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