Robert Wigton, MD, and his UNMC legacy – Newsroom: Newsroom – University of Nebraska Medical Center

Robert Wigton, MD, longtime leader at UNMC, died Monday, Aug. 22. Working with Dr . Wigton before their death, Erin Torell and members associated with the McGoogan Health Sciences Library produced this history piece on Dr. Wigton — a fitting way, Dr. Wigton told library staff, to mark the passing of the university’s unofficial  historian.

Robert Wigton, MD, a man of many interests plus talents, leaves a mark on UNMC both in his role in improving medical student education and as the curator of UNMC background.

Doctor Wigton was born into an Omaha medical family. His grandfather Harrison Wigton, MD (COM graduate 1904), practiced psychiatry in Omaha and was a member of the particular College associated with Medicine Department of Neurology and Psychiatry. Dr. Wigton’s father, Robert Spencer Wigton, MD (COM graduate 1935), joined their father’s private psychiatric practice and the College of Medicine Division of Neurology and Psychiatry. Dr . Wigton followed inside his family’s footsteps, earning his MD from UNMC in 1969. But he broke along with family tradition by pursuing internal medicine.   After completing his residency at UNMC, Doctor Wigton joined the faculty in general internal medication. In 1972, he received an MS in physiology from UNMC.

See the library’s online exhibit on Dr. Wigton and his family members.

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Dr . Wigton has been an accomplished artist, often illustrating their conference announcements and in 2014 holding an exhibit associated with his oil paintings plus photographs. The above cartoon had been part of a series this individual created upon “bedside manner. ” More illustrations can be found at the link above.

Doctor. Wigton devoted more than 40 years in order to improving the particular educational experience for healthcare students in UNMC through innovations in medical decision-making.   In 1982, he was a visiting scholar in the University of Pennsylvania to research decision-making in clinical settings. He subsequently developed a “programmed learning” curriculum that encouraged students to reason via standardized patient diagnoses in order to allow them to see their effect on a particular situation. It was the “choose your adventure” exercise: using a multi-question process, students would evaluate a path to take at each step. Every correct answer would lead students to the next question. An incorrect answer would lead to an explanation of why the choice was wrong and move the student back to the beginning of the diagnosis procedure.

Memorial service

A memorial support will happen later this fall on the Wigton Heritage Center. Information will be shared with the campus community when available.

This process enabled Dr. Wigton’s students to make their own choices on cases and learn from their mistakes in a supportive, educational environment. Doctor Wigton’s work in the particular classroom and studies in medical decision-making led him to publish more than 160 scientific papers and book chapters on the topic, in addition to studies on computer-based teaching programs. Dr . Wigton served as vice-president and board member associated with the Society for Healthcare Decision Making (SMDM). In 1996 the society awarded your pet the Eugene Saenger Award for Distinguished Service in order to SMDM.

Doctor. Wigton was a Renaissance man who had numerous interests beyond medicine. He was the jazz musician, playing the saxophone plus clarinet within several jazz bands while attending Central High School. He attended Harvard College and received a BA in English literature. From 1966-1969, whilst he has been in medical school, Doctor Wigton taught a cinematography course from Creighton College. His filmmaking skills led him to assist UNMC teachers in creating instructional material and his classmates inside creating entertaining films highlighting humor and joy in medical schooling. Dr . Wigton also was an accomplished artist. During their residency plus as a faculty member, he used his drawing skills to create training materials and announce presentations. Later in his career, Dr. Wigton exhibited oil and watercolor paintings and photography at several local galleries. His interest in science fiction dovetailed into their professional interest in computers plus decision-making.

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From left, family members James Wigton, MD, Robert Wigton, MD, Judith Wigton and Deborah Wigton gather following the groundbreaking ceremony for the Wigton Heritage Middle in 2019.

Given his family’s long history inside Omaha medicine and with UNMC, it was only natural that Dr. Wigton would become the “unofficial historian” for the particular campus. His interest led to campus presentations and UNMC Today photo challenges on the history of UNMC and Nebraska medical history. Doctor. Wigton generously collaborated upon numerous projects with the McGoogan Library Special Collections plus Archives Section (SCA) including:

  • Digitization of historic photographs
  • Financial support with regard to an interactive touchscreen displaying digital exhibits
  • Financial support to purchase and install a custom art storage system
  • Personally conducted numerous oral histories
  • Leading the work to bring a Nebraska State Historical marker to Poynter Hall

Within 2017, the particular McGoogan Library renamed Level 8 the Wigton History of Medicine Archives. The culmination of his love of sharing UNMC history was the particular creation associated with the Wigton Heritage Center, which opened in 2021. The Wigton Heritage Middle memorializes UNMC’s unique history through exhibitions that utilize the collections of SCA and serves as the campus welcome center.

Doctor Wigton contributed in order to various professional organizations. This individual served around the Society regarding General Internal Medicine table, and in 2005 the society awarded him the particular Elnora Rhodes Award. As a member from the American College associated with Physicians, in 2006, this individual was granted the Nebraska Chapter Laureate Award. Dr. Wigton has been a fellow of the American University of Medical Informatics. While an associate of the medical honor community, Alpha Omega Alpha, Doctor. Wigton offered as the society’s Nebraska Chapter counselor plus past president. In 2007 the national Phi Rho Sigma honored Dr . Wigton the Irving Cutter Honor for their lifetime contribution to medication.

During his long career at UNMC, Doctor Wigton held various positions.

  • 1976-1979, Director of the House Officer Program intended for Internal Medication
  • 1986-1987, Interim Dean to get Academic Affairs
  • 1976-2013, Associate Dean pertaining to Graduate Healthcare Education
  • 1993-2002, Chief of the section of General Inner Medicine

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Longtime friend and colleague Thomas Tape, MD, called the particular Wigton Heritage Center “a fitting heritage to Bob’s enormous impact on UNMC. ”

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