John Beasley

Dr. Beasley in his office, circa 2003

John Beasley, MD, one of the UW Department of Family Medicine and Community Health’s (DFMCH) longest-standing and most-honored faculty members, retired in May 2017 after over 40 years of service to the department, the UW School of Medicine and Public Health and the discipline of family medicine.

Clinical Practice, Educational Leadership and Service Spanning Five Decades

An alumnus of the DFMCH’s third residency class, Dr. Beasley joined the department in 1975 as an instructor and family physician at the UW Health Verona Clinic, where he practiced until his retirement this year.

“John Beasley is a consummate family medicine educational leader who has impacted learners at every level within the DFMCH.”

—William Schwab, MD, DFMCH Vice Chair for Education

Dr. Beasley, circa 1984

Dr. Beasley, circa 1984

Throughout his career, he held numerous department leadership positions, including predoctoral division director, assistant chair, Madison and Eau Claire residencies program director, and founding director of what is now known as the Wisconsin Research and Education Network (WREN).

He’s also been a long-time teacher in several SMPH classes, served on over a dozen SMPH academic committees, and had leadership roles at the Wisconsin Medical Society, the Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians (WAFP) and the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM).

For the past decade, he was the medical director for the UW-Madison Physician Assistant Program, collaborating with PA Program Director Virginia Snyder, PhD, PA-C, on the program’s 2010 transition to a master’s program.

“Dr. Beasley’s contributions to our curriculum, to innovative approaches to teaching, and to faculty and student mentoring have been far-reaching and foundational to what our program has become. Little did we know of the wealth we would receive when Dr. Beasley accepted our invitation to join us as medical director. Now we do fully understand, and we could not feel more fortunate to have shared this time with him”

—Virginia Snyder, PhD, PA-C, UW-Madison PA Program Director


Dr. Beasley, along with Bucky Badger and DFMCH Chair Valerie Gilchrist, MD, unveil a new Babcock Hall ice cream flavor, “Primary Care-amel” at the department’s 40th anniversary celebration in 2010.

A Legacy of Passion and Innovation

“John Beasley played a critical role in my development as a physician. He taught me the “intangibles” in family medicine–how to deal with uncertainty, how to decide on a plan when there is more than one solution, how to critically reason. Most importantly, he demonstrated the importance of the doctor-patient relationship. He will be greatly missed by his patients and colleagues.”

—Melissa Stiles, MD, Professor (CHS) and 1991 DFMCH residency alumna


Dr. Beasley (on far right), with ALSO course co-founder James Damos, MD, and former ALSO program manager Diana Winslow, RN, BSN, at the program’s 25th anniversary celebration in 2016.

A former Peace Corps volunteer, Dr. Beasley has been an advocate for rural and global health for his entire career, beginning in 1975 when he was named the first director of the UW Office of Rural Health.

In 1991, he joined with James Damos, MD, former director of the department’s Baraboo Rural Training Track, to create the Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics (ALSO®) course. This course, now owned by AAFP, is offered in 62 countries and has trained over 150,000 physicians, residents, nurses and EMTs—saving the lives of countless infants and mothers.

Dr. Beasley’s deep interest in systems improvement also led him to establish Improving PrimAry Care Through Industrial and Systems Engineering (I-PrACTISE), a interdepartmental collaborative in which scholars, clinicians and learners can conduct projects that improve primary care practice—and ultimately, the health of patients.

Honored Locally, Nationally and Internationally

“John has been an incredible asset to family medicine. He is adored by his patients, admired by his colleagues, and has always had great aspirations and influence at the local, regional, national, and international levels in critical conversations related to the advancement of family medicine.”

—Brian Arndt, MD, Associate Professor (CHS) and family physician at the UW Health Verona Clinic

“John has been a dedicated family physician, teacher, researcher and colleague for over 40 years. He has always been one of the most flexible faculty members willing to help the department or clinic in any way possible—as long as he was not traveling or flying! He has always loved teaching with excellent student reviews, and his work with the WAFP and AAFP has benefitted family medicine. His good humor and grouchy caricature of Scrooge will be missed!

—William Scheibel, MD, Professor (CHS) and retired medical director of the UW Health Verona Clinic


Dr. Beasley receives the Dean’s Award for Teaching from UW SMPH Dean Robert Golden, MD, in 2017.

Dr. Beasley has earned many well-deserved awards for his leadership and dedication.

He received an SMPH Dean’s Award for Outstanding Service and Leadership in 1995, and a Dean’s Award for Teaching in 2017.

The WAFP honored him with a Practice Educator of the Year award, an Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award, and in 2016, its first Lifetime Achievement Award. He’s also received four service awards from the Wisconsin Medical Society, a State of Wisconsin Primary Care Health Educator Award and a Certificate of Commendation from the Office of the Governor.

Portrait of John Beasley

A portrait of Dr. Beasley painted by Mary-Ellen Hagenauer.

In 2013, he was named a fellow in WONCA, the World Organization of Family Doctors. In 2016, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) bestowed on him its highest honor, the Thomas W. Johnson Award for Career Contributions to Family Medicine Education.

Influencing the Lives of Many

“Now, I’m looking forward to a relaxing summer – watching corn grow and tinkering with my tractors, while I continue to teach residents at Mosaic Family Health in Appleton, Wisconsin,” Dr. Beasley reflects. “By fall, I will plan to re-engage in some additional research, teaching and advocacy work in whatever way may be useful to the SMPH.”

Published: June 2017