Huntington Woods doctor to be honored by WSU

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published September 25, 2013

Dr. Allen Silbergleit

HUNTINGTON WOODS — The Wayne State University School of Medicine will honor Huntington Woods resident Dr. Allen Silbergleit for educating the next generation of doctors for more than 50 years.

Silbergleit will be the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award during the school’s Golden Gala Oct. 12 at the MGM Grand Detroit Hotel. The award is given annually to a faculty member who has shown commitment to the school and the students.

“This award is to honor doctors whose actions have benefited the school of medicine, our students, our medical residents and helped us so that we can produce the best physicians for Michigan,” event Chairperson Maryjean Schenk said. “The distinguished nature of this award also targets individuals who show leadership and are a role model for the students, and even in his early years, Dr. Silbergleit invented new surgical techniques that are used today that have improved the lives of patients. This is a unique opportunity to honor someone like him.”

Silbergleit joined the School of Medicine in 1962 and now serves as professor of surgery and physiology. He is a founding member of the Oakland Health Education Program, later renamed the Southeast Michigan Center for Medical Education, and served as program director of the surgical residency at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital in Pontiac for 40 years.

Silbergleit earned his medical degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and did his residency in general surgery at the University of Minnesota before coming to Wayne State. After arriving at Wayne State, he earned his doctorate in physiology and did his residency in cardiothoracic surgery.

“It’s nice to be recognized by your peers,” Silbergleit said. “I have been involved with many, many faculty here, and I have got a number of awards at Wayne State in the past, so this sort of caps the awards.

“Whatever field you are in, if you are recognized by your colleagues for having achieved, it is a nice feeling.”

Being a surgeon, Silbergleit said he has realized there are three important factors for continued success — patient care, teaching and research.

“If you work really hard and you get to be pretty proficient as a surgeon, I like to say we advance civilization by teaching young people to come up and take our place and be better than we are,” he said. “I wrote something a number of years ago about the creed of being a teacher, and that is passing on your knowledge and helping young people exceed our abilities. When you are teaching, that is what we are trying to do.”

The career choice Silbergleit faced when he entered college wasn’t a hard one, he said, as he always thought being a doctor was something he was meant to do. To see the result of his hard work pay off in such a life-changing way is something he felt he couldn’t get in many other professions.

“It seemed to me, even when I was a little kid, that there couldn’t be anything more important than saving the lives of people on a routine basis,” Silbergleit said. “As a physician, as a surgeon, our work is apparent quickly and when someone is involved in a severe trauma and we operate and take care and save a live, what could be more important than that? It is something I intuitively care for more than anything else.”

While other doctors will be honored at the gala, Schenk said Silbergleit would be a special honoree, as he has gone above and beyond for the school and for his students to make sure they got the best education they could get.

“Dr. Silbergleit recognized that, particularly in surgical training, all physicians in training should have access to state-of-the-art knowledge in the field of surgery, and so he formed an education consortium that still exists today,” Schenk said. “He and other surgeons do mock oral boards for all the residents so they are in the best position to pass the real boards.

“One of the distinguishing features about him is that he is looking to the future on how to improve learning of students, and that is something he is passionate about.”

Having spent more than 50 years at Wayne State, Silbergleit said he couldn’t be happier with his decision to remain there.

“Wayne State is a tremendous institution and is one of the major urban universities in the United States with a medical school that has a national reputation,” he said. “It is nice to work with people who are very, very skilled and among the best doctors in the country. I think the medical students get a very good education, and people in the profession know that, so I have been very pleased with Wayne State.”