IY Speaker Spotlight: Bill Stewart - Physicians Associate Program / by Mike Garcia

Dr. Bill Stewart joined the Yale community in 1976 as a postdoctoral fellow after completing a doctorate degree in anatomy from Emory University. His early work focused on the electrical activity of the olfactory bulb. Dr. Stewart always saw educating health professional students as part of his future, having been “classically trained” in cell biology, neurobiology, and gross anatomy.

He began his work at the Yale in Gordon Shepherd’s lab using newly discovered methods for metabolically mapping of brain activity.  Additionally, he collaborated with William Collins in the spinal cord injury group in Neurosurgery and Laura Ment in Pediatric Neurology on the consequences of preterm birth.

Dr. Stewart had always seen himself running a neurobiology course, and ironically did not enjoy gross anatomy as a student, but an opportunity appeared at Yale in the Section of Gross Anatomy. After the 1984 semi-retirement of then section chief, Edmund S. Crelin, Dr. Stewart took the section reigns.

Dr. Stewart gradually adjusted to his new role, spending more time on administration and teaching, and adapting to the “Yale System of Medical Education”, which emphasizes training medical students as scientists rather than a technicians.

The daily time spent with his diverse group of students is what Dr. Stewart is most inspired by. Dr. Stewart also believes that, “many health related disciplines must understand anatomy.  These include Physician Associates, Yale GEPN nursing students (co-taught with Linda Pellico), hospital paramedics, New Haven schoolteachers, surgery and dentistry residents and students from Career High. The dissection time in the gross anatomy labs is very rewarding.  There is no substitute for learning by doing. The best part of lab is the opportunity to get to know students.”

Photo by John Curtis.