The Golden Cane Award sits prominently at the top of a set of stairs in Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences’ Butler-Haney Hall. A gift from the Class of 2021, the award’s wooden frame is headed by a black-and-gold trimmed placard, which reads: “If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.” Those words are attributed to Fred Rogers, more commonly known as Mr. Rogers, the beloved host of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, a television show which helped to inspire curiosity, compassion, and a lifetime commitment to learning in children across the nation. When the award first arrived, an empty space sat below that quote, waiting to be emblazoned with the name of the PNWU professor who students felt most perfectly exemplified it.
"If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of."
Tasked with voting to fill that blank space, medical students casted their votes for The Golden Cane Awards first recipient. Unsurprisingly, a plethora of suggested faculty nominations were thrown into the hat — 15 pages worth, to be exact. In the end, however, one name appeared more frequently than any other: Dr. Albert Brady, PNWU’s Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine.
“This year, we get a new tradition of awarding special recognition upon one of our amazing professors,” explained third-year PNWU medical student Ryan Ostler, speaking to an audience of mostly his peers, who had gathered to witness the culmination of their tallied opinions. “I asked our class to nominate one professor who put his or her heart into caring for us and our success, or who helped mentor us, guide us, and really cared about us.”
After revealing the names of some of the distinguished faculty who also received votes for the award, Ostler turned his attention toward the recipient, and one nomination that summarized everything Dr. Brady represented to the students of PNWU.
“I not only learned systems and medicine from him,” read Ostler, “but also the human side of medicine; how to take care of patients when things aren’t going well, and you can’t do a ton medically. He taught us to confront our biases on a day-to-day. I feel that he has helped me understand the mind-body-connection that is fundamental to osteopathic medicine in many little ways along the way. He’s helped to reinforce why I’m here, and what it actually means to be a good D.O.”
As Dr. Albert Brady approached the stage to receive PNWU’s Golden Cane Award, the auditorium erupted in a standing applause.
Staring out at many of the people who’s lives he had so dramatically influenced, Dr. Brady appeared overcome with gratitude. “I’m not sure what to say,” he said, clearing his throat before placing a stabilizing hand on the podium beside him. “Maybe we should all go get dessert or something.”
Tracing his history in the medical field, the celebrated oncologist expounded on the importance of spending time with family and loved ones. Sharing stories of his own early struggles to embrace career and family, Dr. Brady encouraged the busy medical students to keep focused on what he has come to see as the most important part of life.
“This is a very remarkable place, and you will be very successful, and you will make important changes, certainly in our profession, and maybe in the world.” He paused. “But don’t lose sight of what is the most important thing: those who support you, and care about you, and back you up.”
Congratulations, and thank you, Dr. Albert Brady.