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2005 Faculty Awards: Giffin Finds Fans Among Med Center Students

Students find Bruce Giffin's devotion to teaching gives them the kind of support needed to get through one of the most difficult periods in medical training. Their admiration, in turn, helped him earn a 2005 Mrs. A.B. "Dolly" Cohen Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Date: 5/10/2005 12:00:00 AM
By: Dama Kimmon
Phone: (513) 558-4519
Photos By: Andrew Higley

UC ingot   "Dr. Giffin rocks!"


"Always excellent."

Dr. Giffin isn’t the name of the latest band to hit Bogarts.

He’s the course director of Gross Anatomy and Brain and Behavior I and II at UC’s College of Medicine and these comments litter his course evaluations year after year.

For many students, classes focused on anatomy or the brain aren’t usually the first pick at quarterly scheduling sessions.


But under the direction of Bruce Giffin, PhD, science offerings dealing with some of the most difficult subjects in medicine have turned in to course-schedule favorites.

For the past ten years, Dr. Giffin has been churning out very satisfied medical and graduate students, winning accolades and teaching awards along the way.

His gift for organizing difficult material into focused lecture and lab sessions makes Dr. Giffin one of the most beloved teachers at UC’s Medical Center.

And he is relentless in his efforts to make sure students not only learn what it takes to pass the occasional exam, but also retain that information as they move further into their careers.

To do so, Dr. Giffin has made Brain and Behavior I and II truly interdisciplinary by brining in guest lecturers from other departments, creating ways for students to experience more interactive learning, filling curriculum with more clinical and case studies and offering students the chance to actually stand up and teach the material.

It’s only obvious then that one of these courses has received the highest student rating for all basic sciences courses at UC three years in a row, and in 2004, the highest score ever received by a medical course.

"As an educator, Dr. Giffin is clearly recognized and appreciated by students and colleagues as ‘the best,’" says Peter Stambrook, PhD, chair of the Department of Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy.

It’s Dr. Giffin’s obvious love for teaching that prompted faculty, staff and students to fill an entire three-ring binder full of nomination forms for this year’s Mrs. A.B. "Dolly" Cohen Award for Excellence in Teaching.

But his teaching skills go further than the classroom.

Dr. Giffin has made a name for himself by letting students in on his life outside the classroom. He is a gourmet chef, hosting student groups in his home each year during orientation and periodically preparing gourmet feasts for students who have—guess— shown particularly impressive dissection skills

Dr. Giffin also knows the importance of making new students feel welcome right from the beginning, never turning down opportunities to help in the student-recruitment process.

Those first-time meetings stick with students as they continue through school.

"On the first day of medical school, Dr. Giffin emphasized that in medical education, retention was essential, and he ensured us that he would provide the tools that would enable us to retain the material," says Mary Carol Burkhardt, student in the class of 2007. "I believe the University of Cincinnati is a far greater institution because of Dr. Giffin."

In addition to his starring roles as professor, recruiter and chef, some of Dr. Giffin’s most difficult tasks come in his capacity as the director of UC’s Body Donation Program. His ability to answer tough questions from the families of those who have chosen to donate their bodies to medical education and research upon their death is reflected in the sustained success and dignity of UC’s donor program.

Between his directing roles in body donation and his department’s medical education program, his course lecturing and leadership, his community activities, and his life outside work as an avid runner, movie connoisseur and talented musician and painter, Dr. Giffin has still managed to win outstanding teaching awards nine of the last 10 years.

It’s no wonder students say "Dr. Giffin rocks!"

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