Robert E. Madsen, D.O., FACOS, '56
2004 Living Tribute Award
The Board of Directors of the Kirksville Osteopathic Alumni Association has named Dr. Madsen, who joined the KCOM faculty in 1971, the recipient of the Living Tribute Award for 2004 for his many years of dedicated service to KCOM and the osteopathic profession. “Obviously, it is an honor to receive the award,” he said, “but I have never enjoyed the limelight.”
Dr. Madsen has estimated that during the 40 years he was a surgeon he was involved in approximately 37,700 operations, including inpatient, outpatient, major, minor, and office procedures.
His career as a surgeon ended in 1997, but now he's an anatomy professor who focuses on teaching what he hopes will be a new, improved generation of osteopathic surgeons.
“I headed up the surgery department and the surgical residency program at Kirksville Osteopathic Medical Center (now Northeast Regional Medical Center) so I know that so much of your success is based on anatomy, a thorough understanding of the body. I was thrilled to be a surgeon for so many years, but it's a different kind of satisfaction when you train students that come after you,” said Dr. Madsen, who teaches first-year students. “Your only reason for being in the classroom or the lab is to make certain that they come out better than you.
“I have a keen interest in who comes after me, who will represent the school and the profession. We look for students that have top-notch interpersonal skills and that can relate to patients. I love the school, I love the students, and I've been very fortunate to deal with an outstanding faculty all these years.”
What he has always enjoyed is learning. A native of Minneapolis, Minn., Dr. Madsen graduated cum laude from the University of Minnesota. Following his graduation from KCOM he received a rotating internship at the old Laughlin Hospital and Clinic in Kirksville. In the l950s and 1960s he completed general surgery, orthopedic surgery, thoracic and cardiovascular surgery, and urological surgery residencies and fellowships in Battle Creek, Mich., Los Angeles, Calif., Uppsala, Sweden, Moscow, Russia, and McGill University in Canada. In 1990 he received laparoscopic laser surgery training in Modesto, Calif.
“I developed a keen interest in surgery early in my career,” said Dr. Madsen, who practiced in Ohio and Michigan for about eight years before joining KCOM. “I had great admiration for the surgeons I met through my rotations, residencies, and training.”
A fellow of the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons since 1973, he also was once the chief physician for the Muskegon (Michigan) Mohawks of the International Hockey League, an editorial consultant for The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, and an interim director of the OB/GYN residency program at the Kirksville Osteopathic Medical Center.
Dr. Madsen likes to think he's learning as much from his students today as they are learning from him. “It keeps you young in a way,” he said. “Our first-year students come here with high energy, high expectations, and a lot of fire. I feel like I learn a lot from them. It helps me accept change, and it's nice to be around them. I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who once said, ‘When you finish changing, you are finished.' ”
Dr. Madsen and his wife, Barbara, a retired elementary school teacher, have six children and 10 grandchildren. One of their sons, Kurt R. Madsen, D.O., '88, is an orthopedic surgeon in Terre Haute, Ind.
Established in 1969, the Living Tribute Award provides alumni and friends of the College an opportunity to support outstanding KCOM faculty and administrators. All donations in honor of Dr. Madsen are restricted for use by the KOAA/KCOM Education Program Fund.
Please use the online giving form to make your contribution. Dr. Madsen will be notified of those who give in his honor.