Dr. Haq

Dr. Haq in 2014

Cynthia Haq, MD, a professor (CHS) in the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH) Department of Family Medicine and Community Health (DFMCH) and Department of Population Health Sciences, will leave Wisconsin to become chair of the University of California–Irvine Department of Family Medicine. Her new appointment begins January 1, 2018.

In her 28 years here, Dr. Haq’s work has resonated with medical students, family medicine residents, patients and colleagues in Madison, across Wisconsin and around the world.

She helped launch the first family medicine residency programs in Pakistan, Uganda and Ethiopia, and created and directed the Training in Urban Medicine and Public Health (TRIUMPH) program at the SMPH.

A lifelong advocate for global health, she was also the founding director of what is now the University of Wisconsin-Madison Global Health Institute.

Global Health Institute field course

Dr. Haq (center, holding baby) and UW Physical Therapy Program faculty member Sara Smiley with UW medical, physical therapy and undergraduate pre-med students in Uganda as part of a UW Global Health Institute field course.

Her many honors include two Fulbright scholarships, an American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) President’s Award and Exemplary Teaching Award, a Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM) National Excellence in Education Award, two Arnold Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine awards, a Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians (WAFP) Family Physician Educator of the Year award, and a UW SMPH Dean’s Teaching Award.

“It was Cindy’s vision and drive that led to TRIUMPH as it is today. Armed with the never-dulling blade of what is right for our patients, community and students, Cindy fought for the required resources, facilities and processes to optimize the program.  She was mentor, teacher, surrogate parent and champion for TRIUMPH students.  I have always believed that no one is irreplaceable, and that the greatest leaders are honored, not missed, but Cindy may be an exception.”

—John Brill, MD, MPH

Dr. Haq

Dr. Haq as a first-year resident in 1983

Following Dr. Gene Farley’s Vision of Family Medicine

Reflecting on themes that tie together her legacy, Dr. Haq first remembers her interactions as a resident with Gene Farley, MD, a former DFMCH chair and “father of family medicine.”

“Dr. Farley articulated the vision of family medicine as providing holistic care to the individual in the context of their family and community,” she recalls. She credits Dr. Farley and DFMCH residency founder Marc Hansen, MD, with providing her the training, flexibility and inspiration to follow through on that vision throughout her career.

“I wanted to be the kind of teacher they were for me, and my legacy has been to pass on those things I learned from them,” she reflects.

“Cindy and Gene Farley are cut from the same cloth; different patterns, but the same cloth. They have a gift for seeing and bringing out the best in people, they are dogged advocates for the underserved and they do it all with a smile. They are among the nicest people you will ever meet.”

—Kenneth Kushner, PhD

Community Engagement and Commitment to the Underserved

triumph class 2017

Dr. Haq, top left, with the TRIUMPH class of 2017.

Early in her career, when she began establishing family medicine education programs in Uganda and Pakistan, Dr. Haq learned the importance of community engagement—another key theme in her career.

She explains that family physicians have a broad skill set that can be tailored to the specific communities they serve; for example, rural Belleville, where Dr. Haq practiced from 1989 to 2008, or urban Milwaukee, where she practiced from 2008 until now.

In addition, skills such as cross-cultural communication, cultural humility and the ability to listen are especially important when designing educational programs that can be sustained over the long term. “I wanted to invest my effort in things that have long-lasting value, and attract people who can carry them on after me,” Dr. Haq says.

Consistently woven throughout her work is a deep commitment to the underserved. Whether it’s creating a family medicine residency program in Ethiopia, or teaching medical students to provide health care and promote health equity for disadvantaged populations in Milwaukee, Dr. Haq has chosen to focus her efforts where needs are greatest.

“A thoughtful innovator, Cindy has transformed medical education about family medicine, global health, and caring for communities by first listening to the voices of learners and building connections with partners before developing curricula and implementing instruction.  She has also modeled well the power of determined advocacy.”

—William Schwab, MD

The Value of Compassion

Dr. Haq’s last reflection on her time here is perhaps her most personal. A mother of four who at times has struggled to balance her own work and family, she aims to teach learners the value of resilience and compassion—to self and others.

“Take care of yourself and your family, so you can stay in the work for the long term,” she says. “If you deny your own needs, you can’t be sympathetic to the needs of your patients or colleagues.”

Thank you, Dr. Haq, for all you have given, and we wish you the best in California!

Published: September 2017