The Department of Family Medicine and Community Health (DFMCH) honors the April 21, 2023, passing of Dr. David Deci. He served as director of the Office of Medical Student Education from 2009-2020. He also maintained a practice at the Belleville Family Medicine Center before retiring to Maine to be near family.

David Deci, MD

Dr. David Deci at the 2022 Renner-Hansen Celebration.

Deci practiced in rural North Carolina and Virginia for 17 years before following his passion for teaching by accepting a faculty position at West Virginia University and ultimately joining UW in 2009.

“David loved family medicine and working with our learners,” shares DFMCH Chair Dr. David Rakel. “He and his team built a program that resulted in a significant increase in the number of students choosing family medicine.”

As a result of Deci’s commitment to education, the UW School of Medicine and Public Health Family Medicine Interest Group (FMIG) received the American Academy of Family Physicians Program of Excellence Award seven times under his leadership.

A valued friend and mentor to many, Deci had a way of inspiring students and described the family medicine profession as “special people providing special care,” according to Dr. Jacob Bryan, faculty director for the FMIG.

“Dr. Deci encouraged students (and me) to find the ‘real you’—to remember the reasons they wanted to become a doctor when deciding on residency choice,” adds Bryan. “He talked about the holistic factors of healing including psychosocial and spiritual factors. He reminded us all that practicing medicine is about using ‘our brains, our hands, and our hearts.’ ”

Deci also devoted much of his career to caring for people experiencing homelessness and encouraged students to get involved in community service. He gave a presentation, “Lessons from the Margins: A Pathway to Joy,” discussing his work with the Morgantown Outreach to Unsheltered Homeless in Virginia when he received the John H. Renner Wisconsin Idea Award in 2022.

Director of Medical School Education Dr. Mark Beamsley considered Deci a true role model adding, “Dave worked with many partners throughout the country to promote our specialty and was a leader in developing the Family Medicine Midwest Conference for medical students and promoting care for homeless populations. He always looked for ways to help colleagues develop their own vision and pathways in medical education, and he has a legacy of faculty and medical education coordinators who learned and benefited from him.”

The Deci family listed several charities accepting donations in Dr. Deci’s memory including the Joyce F. Jeardeau Family Medicine Memorial Scholarship.

Read the full obituary

Published: May 2023