Time out with T.O. - One great teacher

by Tom O'Connor, UNMC public relations | June 18, 2013

picture disc.
Jack Matoole, M.D.

After nearly 50 years on the UNMC faculty, they had to twist the arm of Jack Matoole, M.D., to convince him to have a retirement tea.

He would have loved to have avoided the fanfare.

But there was no way the general medicine division of internal medicine was going to let him off that easy.

No way were they going to let this unsung superstar call it quits without giving him a proper sendoff.

"After Dr. LeeRoy Meyer (who died in 2005), Jack is probably the best teacher ever on this campus," said Tom Tape, M.D., general internal medicine chief.

To say Dr. Matoole kept a low profile would be an understatement. I did an archive search of UNMC Today. His name came up once in the past 11 years, for winning a department teaching award in 2012, although he's received many others.

"Jack was never about accolades," Dr. Tape said.

"The cool thing about Jack is that he has exceedingly high expectations," said Chad Vokoun, M.D., a UNMC internist. "He pays back with the quality time he spends with students and residents. He makes them work their butts off, but what they get back in return is immeasurable."

The Matoole-isms are plentiful:

  • He was notorious for buzzing with his voice when students gave an incorrect answer.
  • He carried around a supply of applications to McDonald's. When students were unprepared, he would tell them they better shape up or they would need to look to McDonald's for work.
  • Often, he would bust out the Big Mac jingle, "Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese..." It was not something the students wanted to hear.
  • He would needle unprepared students by inquiring, "How many times can you repeat your junior year?"
  • If a student on rounds indicated the patient's lungs were clear, Dr. Matoole would proclaim, "You can see through the chest? Great, our student has X-ray vision -- cancel the CT scan."

"In the process of teaching someone else, you also teach yourself," said Dr. Matoole, 80, who did most of his teaching at the VA Medical Center. "I get great pleasure in watching the development and progressive sophistication of students and residents as they enhance their own clinical acumen. I love to watch them succeed in their own personal careers -- it's almost a surrogate achievement."

Enjoy the retirement, Jack. What the heck -- have a Big Mac.

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Mary Haven
June 26, 2013 at 12:12 PM

Have a great retirement! I have been honored by working with you. Mary Haven