After 48 years in medicine, Daniel Lichtstein, M.D., MACP, regional dean for medical education and professor of medicine and medical education, is retiring from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Dr. Lichtstein leaves behind a celebrated career in general internal medicine and as a mentor and leader in medical education. Over the years, he has guided hundreds of medical students and residents.
“I am exceedingly proud that I have played some part in their careers,” Dr. Lichtstein said. “Watching medical students and residents develop into thoughtful, skilled, and compassionate physicians is my most important accomplishment.”
His current positions as regional dean for medical education and designated institutional official on the Miller School’s regional campus in the West Palm/Boca Raton area were not his first roles in academic medicine.
Dr. Lichtstein matched for internship/residency in internal medicine at UM/Jackson Memorial Hospital in 1974, after graduating from medical school at SUNY Downstate in New York City. He began on the main campus as director of ambulatory education for the Department of Medicine in 1996. Prior to that, he spent 18 years as an internist in private practice in West Palm Beach.
Over the last 26 years, Dr. Lichtstein has served as a faculty member at the Miller School.
“Danny Lichtstein’s outstanding personal characteristics of altruism, integrity, and concern, along with an unequalled skill of caring for the patient, have made him the extraordinary teacher and role model known and respected by all,” said Laurence Gardner, M.D., professor of medicine and senior advisor to the dean.
A Major Force in Mentoring
Becoming director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program at UM/Jackson Memorial was one of Dr. Lichtstein’s career high points. During his time on the faculty, he emphasized the human side of the physician-patient relationship.
“It brought out in me what I had not recognized I had, which was the ability to work with patients and families through very difficult times,” he said.
That experience led Dr. Lichtstein to teach students and residents through real-life stories of compassionate medicine. His narratives could be applied to the cases that students and trainees were seeing in real time.
A Valuable Colleague
“From the beginning, what I really liked about Danny was his wisdom and his integrity. I knew right away that here is somebody whose judgment I value,” said Latha Chandran, M.D., M.P.H., executive dean for education and policy, founding chair of the Department of Medical Education, and Bernard J. Fogel Chair in Medical Education.
Dr. Lichtstein was integral to helping Dr. Chandran, who started at the Miller School during the pandemic.
“Having somebody like Dr. Lichtstein who I could count on as a trusted colleague for wise counsel was very, very helpful,” Dr. Chandran said. “We were able to implement our NextGenMD curriculum successfully. In addition to the great team that I had, it's also because of the unrelenting support and kindness of Dr. Lichtstein.”
Asked what Dr. Lichtstein will be remembered for, Dr. Chandran said, “The legacy that he leaves behind is one of thorough commitment and true mentorship, caring for the learners, as well as for the people that work for him and with him.”
‘A Unique Gift’
“Dr. Lichtstein hired me in 2007 to become a faculty member on the regional medical campus and gave me the extraordinary opportunity to help build a new curriculum, build many new community partnerships, and teach medical students,” said Gauri Agarwal, M.D., FACP, associate professor of medicine and associate dean for curriculum.
“He quickly became my mentor, and I would love watching him teach,” Dr. Agarwal said. “He has a unique gift in connecting with the students and teaching them about the many skills required of physicians.
“I routinely run into faculty who remember his words of wisdom. He has contributed an incredible amount to our medical school from his time as a program director to his current role as a regional dean,” she said.
Dr. Lichtstein leaves behind his positive impact on medical students, residents, faculty, and staff who had the privilege of working with him and learning from him, she added.
“I received some very good advice from a close colleague within the past couple of years when I started to consider retiring,” Dr. Lichtstein said. “His advice was that no matter what you do, no matter what you're interested in, you have to feel as if your life still has meaning.”
Dr. Lichtstein plans to keep educating learners in medicine. “That is what I believe will bring me the most meaning.”
“My other plans are to pursue some of the interests that I have that don't have anything to do with medicine. I'll be able to devote more time to learning about American and world history, which I have always been interested in. Also, I've written two books and I have definite plans to tackle more writing. And hopefully some of the more typical things that you hear from many, which is spend more time with family and to learn how to play the piano.”
Leaving a Legacy
Asked what he hoped his legacy would be, Dr. Lichtstein said he’s very proud of what has been accomplished in developing both the medical student experience and the graduate medical education programs on the regional campus.
Dr. Lichtstein said that many former students and residents keep in touch. “The most flattering thing they write to me is that when they're going through a difficult situation in medicine, they often hear a voice in their head that asks: ‘What would Dr. Lichtstein do?’
“I'm not saying that in an egotistical way,” he added. “I'm saying that it makes me believe that I've had a positive impact on individuals who have taken those messages, remembered them, and used them to benefit their patients and their patients’ families.
“That's the legacy that means the most to me,” Dr. Lichtstein said. “To have my previous students and residents remember those things that I have taught them that have helped to make them caring and compassionate physicians.”