Celebrating 24 Years of Service: Ruth Patterson



When asked the words that she lives by, Ruth Patterson promptly and happily answers,

“Treat others as you would like to be treated.”

One of the highly treasured staff members of our department, she has served the IU med students, trainees, and faculty by living according to these words.

Hailing from Lansing, Illinois, Ruth was quickly recognized as a potential asset to IU. “I submitted my application on Friday, got called Monday, interviewed on Wednesday, and was hired the following Monday,” she says of the swift response to her interest in a position as office manager in nuclear medicine.

The first time Ruth typed up the syllabus for the radiology clerkship (in its first year--1991), she thought coordination of this new clerkship would be an enjoyable endeavor. That year, when the radiology clerkship transitioned from elective to a requirement in medical school, Dr. Siddiqui offered her the position.

Ruth relates how when the clerkship first started, it was a “basic structure,” with lectures and group presentations. Now the clerkship offers 60 different sessions, including hands-on labs. When IUSM curriculum changes in 2016 with the 1st year medical student class, the plan is to eventually transition, from a one month required radiology clerkship to a four-year integration of radiology education and practical experience throughout med school. Ruth is uncertain of what the future holds, but she is certain that her replacement Carlene Webb-Burton’s competency, laid-back approach, and positive attitude will be an asset to the program.

Ruth has always been a “smiling face” in the radiology administration office at Riley. She works well with the intensity, intelligence, and competition that she encounters amongst medical students.

 “It’s like being a mother hen. The med students are so bright, intelligent and fun to work with.”

Ruth has been the sole statewide medical school education coordinator for 24 years, running a “one woman show” and having little administrative backup, other than the guidance and leadership of Dr. Gunderman.

“Dr. Gunderman is such a pleasure to work with—very even-keeled and supportive. He is the most amazing, intelligent Renaissance man. He is so busy and so involved, but he’s so appreciative, caring, and considerate. It’s been my honor to work with him.”

One difference Ruth sees in the clerkship over the years is that it is “more structured now.” She especially credits the teaching residents and faculty with making the clerkship what it is today: “I truly feel we have a great group of residents—they do a great job. They were medical students not so long ago and they can relate.”

Ruth has also taken an active role in Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society (AOA). She has been serving as Indiana Chapter AOA coordinator for 15 years. “Our Indiana chapter membership has increased and that process has been a lot of fun,” she states.

She plans two events each year for AOA, including the election meeting and induction banquet. “I’m a one-woman event planner, from invitations  to over 1800 members, creating, programs, name tags and arranging silent auction items and overall hosting...”

A common theme in her time at IU has been the one-woman show. A highly intelligent and independent woman, Ruth simply gets stuff done with no complaints and a smile on her face.

“It’s a generational work ethic,” she states. “I’ve never said ‘that’s not my job’ and I seldom tell anybody no. It makes for good working relationships. I’ve always respected everyone.”

The proud owner of a wooden plaque that simply states, “What Goes Around Comes Around,” in essence Ruth believes that a good work ethic and friendliness will reciprocally enhance and enrich her own life.

An independent woman running a clerkship that emphasizes and develops independence in med students, Ruth has been perfectly suited to the position for 24 years. Now, she will pursue a new form of independence—enjoying retirement. She plans to travel to Aruba next Friday for her daughter’s wedding, then relax often at her lakeside property.

“My role model is my husband,” she states. “He’s very encouraging. I am most proud that I have been happily married for over 44 years.” She also feels intense pride for her daughter and grandson.

The department also feels intense pride in having had Ruth serve with us. We wish her the best in this next chapter of her life.

Join us in wishing Ruth a fond farewell at her retirement reception this Friday, May 23, 1-2:30 PM in the Radiology Classroom at Riley.

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