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Tribute to Dr. Butch Humbert

Butch Humbert, MD, always knew he wanted to be doctor. In high school, he worked as a transportation aide in a local emergency department and fell in love with the environment. “I enjoyed the variety, the pace, the kind of camaraderie and the teamwork you experience in the emergency room,” Dr. Humbert said. “I think those are the reasons why I still love it today.”

Building and nurturing a sense of team and sharing his love of emergency medicine are two of the traits Dr. Humbert hopes he’s brought to the job of emergency medicine residency program director, a position he’s held for the past seven years. On June 30, 2022, he stepped down from the post, returning to full-time clinical practice at Eskenazi Health.

“Butch’s leadership has been exemplary,” said Peter Pang, MD, chair, Department of Emergency Medicine. “It has been a challenging and turbulent seven years, yet through it all, he has continued to ensure excellence at every level within the residency program. I’m grateful and glad we will continue to benefit from his wisdom in the years to come."
Under Dr. Humbert’s leadership, a total of 160 residents have graduated from IU’s EM residency program. Witnessing firsthand how residents grow into their roles as emergency medicine professionals is one of the things he’ll miss most about being program director. 
“Seeing residents go off and be successful is an exciting part of being in program leadership,” he said. “When one of our residents presents at a national meeting or goes on to become a program director at another institution, it’s rewarding knowing that we helped plant those seeds and had a hand in helping them develop those abilities during residency.”
In addition to expanding the residency program from 19 to 21 residents a year during his time as program director, Dr. Humbert said the program has made great strides in the recruitment process. 
“We’ve been able to develop a system where we engage more stakeholders, other residents and faculty in the recruitment process to review applications, which has allowed us to review more than 1,000 applications every year,” he said. “We’re not just looking at applicant’s board scores; we’re really taking a holistic view of the applications to get the most diverse, high-quality group of residents we can. It’s an accomplishment that I’m really proud of.”

And what does he hope residents have learned from him?

“The one thing I wanted every resident to leave with is the ability to continue learning. Medicine is ever-changing, and when they leave here, they have the ability to continue learning and growing over time, then we know we’ve been successful.”

Reflecting on Butch Humbert’s legacy as IU EM Residency Program Director

“Few people have had a bigger impact on the educational mission of IUEM than Butch. The value of his work in both undergraduate medical education (UME) (creating our department’s required clerkship) and graduate medical education (GME) (seven years as program director leading us through countless challenges) cannot be overstated. He is the single most important mentor I have had in my career, and I am incredibly grateful for everything he has done for me and the program. But while his academic contributions are tremendous, the thing I value most about Butch is how he is such an authentically good person. The genuine care he shows for everyone and the efforts he makes to always do the right thing are a model to all those around him.”

Joe Turner, MD

“Butch is the ultimate ‘IUEM Dad.’ He looks out for everyone, cares immensely and pours himself into the role. He always makes himself available to others whenever it is needed. Butch always has his cell phone on in case of an emergency from a resident (even answering telemarketers or unknown numbers just in case!). Further, he brings everyone else up around him—allowing the assistant program director team to shine in their own way. He always supports our ideas, endeavors and passion projects.”

Kyra Reed, MD

“As an assistant program director under Butch, I grew immensely under his guise. He always approached his team members with the attitude of ‘what can I do to make you all better?’ He understands each of our strengths and mentors us to lean into those strengths when providing for the residents. This is just one of the great leadership qualities in particular that I will never forget. Butch truly had a profound impact on my residency training, early faculty career, and in the leader that I am today, and I am forever grateful. The best part is that I have no doubt that his impact on all of us will continue no matter what role he decides to take next.”

Steve Wipprecht, MD

“Butch is a fantastic leader and mentor. For all the visible work he does to keep the residency running, he does so much more behind the scenes. I don’t know of anyone else who pours so much of himself into his work. He is personally invested in the success of his residents and program director team. He has shaped my career as a junior faculty and those of countless others. His impact will be felt in emergency medicine for years to come, and we are so lucky to have had him leading the team.

Geoff Hays, MD


The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
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Department of Emergency Medicine

The Department of Emergency Medicine delivers patient care of unsurpassed quality and advanced emergency medicine through education, innovation and discovery in a collegial environment that promotes intellectual and professional growth.