New award honors “Papa Joe” McNerney, excellence in internal medicine

Joseph “Papa Joe” McNerney, D.O.’37, was a pioneer in internal medicine and a practitioner, lecturer and teacher for more than 50 years. His deep commitment to patient care, osteopathic medicine and medical education inspired and enhanced decades’ worth of students, interns, residents and fellow physicians.

To honor his legacy, the College of Osteopathic Medicine created the Joseph R. McNerney, D.O., Award for Excellence in Internal Medicine for fourth-year COM students who exemplify the physician’s expertise, integrity and dedication.

“He was the quintessential osteopathic physician,” recalls Victor Kaylarian, D.O., DMU chair of internal medicine.

“He took very good care of patients and was very much committed to our profession, its growth and the success of everyone’s practice,” adds Michael Flood, D.O.’77, DMU associate professor and chair of the University’s Iowa Simulation Center. “He was a physician’s physician.”

Dr. McNerney, who died in 1998, founded the first intensive-care unit in Iowa, the Harrison Alcohol Treatment Center in Des Moines and the state’s first nuclear medicine program, also in Des Moines. He cofounded the heart clinic at the University of Osteopathic Medicine and Health Sciences, now DMU. He served on the University’s board, including 14 years as chair; was president of the American College of Osteopathic Internists; and was director of internal medicine residency training at Des Moines General Hospital. The Iowa Osteopathic Medical Association named him Physician of the Year in 1984.

In addition, of Dr. McNerney’s 10 children, sons Joseph and Robert and daughter Bridget hold DMU degrees; son David is DMU’s facilities director.

Jayme Danielson, D.O.’10, received the inaugural $500 McNerney Award at the COM graduation banquet in May. “Jayme has an excellent academic record and very strong performances on clinical rotations, especially in internal medicine,” Flood says. “He’s also kind, thoughtful and considerate – well-liked and an all-around fine teammate.”

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