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Tom Kuhns and Alan Friedman: Lasting Lessons

Tom Kuhns and Alan Friedman

Drs. Alan Friedman (left) and Tom Kuhns (right) have been classmates and medical colleagues for more than 50 years.

It has been more than 60 years since Dean Rolf C. Syvertsen, MD, looked over Tom Kuhns's shoulder during freshman gross anatomy lab exams, but Tom hasn't forgotten the weight of those moments or the feeling of sweat rolling down his own face.

"You would give your answer, and he wouldn't say a word," Tom recalls. "He would just move on to the next student and cadaver."

What the dean left was a keen sense of the gravitas of a career in medicine. Tom took the message to heart, then and throughout his career. Part of an accelerated program for premedical students, he graduated from Dartmouth College in 1956 and Dartmouth Medical School in 1957, and earned his MD from Harvard Medical School in 1959. His years at Dartmouth "were the most transformative years of my life," says Tom. A comment Tom's mother made when he was completing his degree at Dartmouth still rings true for him. "She said I'd gone up there as a teenager and had come out halfway to being a physician," remembers Tom.

Strong Ties

Grateful for the role Dartmouth played in his career, Kuhns has made plans for a gift through his will to benefit the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, specifically the Rolf C. Syvertsen MD 1923 Memorial Endowment Fund. The Syvertsen Fund supports scholarships for medical students and the Syvertsen Scholars and Fellow student awards, which recognize scholastic excellence, a love of medicine, and a commitment to serving others.

Kuhns credits his medical colleague and classmate, Dr. Alan Friedman, with helping to maintain his strong ties to Dartmouth. He joined Friedman in his practice in Midtown Manhattan in 1966, after serving as a medical officer with the U.S. Marine Corps and completing an ophthalmology residency and neuro-ophthalmology fellowship. Now, more than 50 years later, the two classmates are still in practice together. Both have also taught for more than 50 years in the Department of Ophthalmology at New York University.

Friedman, the second of three generations of ophthalmologists in his family, has organized multiple reunions for his classmates and keeps the lines of communication open. Friedman and his wife, Diane, have also given generously to the medical school, establishing the Friedman Family Legacy Fellowship for Teaching the Art and Practice of Medicine.

Ophthalmology has proven to be a deeply meaningful career for Kuhns and Friedman, both of whom still see patients. They also cherish the close relationships they formed at Dartmouth Medical School, under the watchful eye of Dean Syvertsen.

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