ORLANDO – Diane Davey wears more hats than a milliner. And each one has served a purpose to fashion a reputation as a respected pathologist and educator.
At the University of Central Florida College of Medicine, the 55-year-old South Dakota native is assistant dean for Graduate Medical Education. She also is professor of pathology. And a couple of days a week she is a clinical pathologist at the Orlando Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Orlando.
But those are just her everyday chapeaus. In her spare time, Davey also hangs her hat as president of the American Board of Pathology, an ex-officio of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, serves on committees of the American Board of Medical Specialities and was honored last year by the College of American Pathologists with a lifetime achievement award for “tireless service and dedication to patients.”
In her “spare” time, Davey is a wife and mother who finds time to exercise, go boating with her husband, visit her grandchildren, bake a mean blueberry pie and escort her mother to the occasional Jimmy Buffett concert or Orlando Magic game.
And, like most very busy people, Davey is undaunted by her hectic schedule.
“I’m happy with what I’ve been able to accomplish, but there’s a lot more to be done,” she said. “I really want to have an impact on students and young physicians and help them.”
Davey came to Orlando in 2007 and was one of the founding faculty at the UCF medical school. “The pioneer spirit of the faculty and administration is very good. We’ve been able to build the curriculum the way we thought it should be done. Students start seeing patients right away. They have the opportunity to work on a research project in their first year. They really are encouraged to pursue their own passion. We’re always trying to improve things,” said Davey.
The healthcare community that was spawned by the opening of the medical school has captivated Davey’s vision about what could be. “We really have the potential to be a medical city,” she said. Orlando residents have been very supportive. “We have a lot of students out in the community gaining experience and learning. We have lots of volunteer faculty and people who come in to help with case study sessions and labs. There is a lot of support from physicians who interview and mentor students,” she said.
Davey said she also is appreciative that “in these times of economic turmoil and budget cuts, the state has been very supportive” of UCF’s medical school.
Davey is board-certified in anatomic pathology and clinical pathology, cytopathology and hematology. At the VA Medical Center Davey said she spends a couple of days a week “looking at blood and bone marrow specimens, and a lot of cytology specimens, like Pap tests.” She also has administrative duties that include quality assurance, managing the lab and technologists, and determining policy.
At UCF, Davey teaches several course modules each year, including hematology, endocrine and reproductive systems. Additionally, she draws on her diverse background to teach outside her modules, primarily about lung and pancreas cancer, the latter having claimed two members of her family.
But about half her professional time is overseeing and improving the Graduate Medical Education program and curriculum at UCF. “When we started this medical school we had to build the curriculum from scratch. We have integrated a lot of topics together,” she said. “For instance, we don’t just bring in normal anatomy cases, we also introduce abnormal anatomy and diseases. And we have patients come in and talk about their diseases,” she said.
Davey has a priority of building new resident physician programs, working with hospitals in the Orlando area. “We have a need for a lot more residency programs in all of Florida. When you look at the number of training programs here and compare it to other areas of the country, we’re relatively low,” she said.
Davey said there is a very positive synergy between her mission at UCF and her leadership roles with national professional organizations like the American Board of Pathology, the College of American Pathologists, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and the American Board of Medical Specialties.
“It has been so useful and such a great education for me and my job at the medical school. I had a great head start working on the residency programs at UCF because of my background on these boards,” she said.
Going even further into Davey’s background revealed she is one of four children born to Don and Cara Lee Davis in Sioux Falls, S.D. Remarkably, all four siblings are practicing physicians and medical school faculty members. (Davey is the only pathologist; her brothers and sisters are into pediatrics, cardiology and radiology.)
Davey completed her undergraduate degree in nutrition from Cornell University, then attended medical school at the University of South Dakota before earning her MD at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. Pathology residencies at Indiana University Medical School and the University of Iowa, as well as a hematopathology fellowship at Iowa, followed. The opportunity to teach drew Davey to the University of Kentucky, where she held varying professorships until her move to Orlando in 2007.
What prompted Davey to leave the Bluegrass State and look for a job in Florida?
She was flying from Louisville to visit relatives in Kansas. She was “seated next to tall, attractive man” who had boarded the flight in Florida. He, too, was headed to Kansas to visit relatives. What happened next is the serendipitous stuff that makes screenwriters salivate.
“I usually don’t talk to people on planes,” Davey remembered. “But I guess because it was around the holidays I was in the mood to talk.” They exchanged contact information and that was the beginning of a long-distance relationship for both divorcees. “I do believe in fate,” Davey said, but she also knew that signing on at UCF “would be a good fit.”
The man who now shares more than a seat with Davey is husband David Weibe, a chief engineer at Siemens Power. Their blended families include three children and two grandchildren.
Her work and travel schedules keep her busy, but Davey said when she has time, David and she love to go boating or kayaking. They also try to work out at the gym at the end of the day, or go for long walks.
But Davey has still another hat that she loves to wear. “I like to bake. My specialty is blueberry pie,” she said. “Otherwise, I try to cook healthy dishes,” lots of veggies and fish, she said, a nod to her early education in nutrition.
And, when her sons visit, Davey said they have a list of dishes they grew up with that they insist Mom make. “Mostly casseroles,” she laughed.