Jonathan S. Appelbaum, M.D., was appointed in August as interim chair of the FSU College of Medicine’s Department of Clinical Sciences. He is the Laurie L. Dozier Jr., M.D., Education Director and professor of internal medicine at the College of Medicine.
Appelbaum has been with the College of Medicine for seven-and-a-half years. His current responsibilities include planning the curriculum and evaluating students on the required third-year internal medicine clerkship and fourth-year internal medicine sub-internship selective. He also serves as a small-group facilitator for clinical skills, lectures in many of the organ-system blocks, teaches in the Clinical Learning Center, is co-block director for the Host Defense block and is faculty advisor for two student interest groups, Gay, Lesbian and Allies Advancing Medicine (GLAAM) and the Internal Medicine Interest Group.
Appelbaum said he finally realized midway through college that medicine was his calling, though growing up, he watched his father, a general practitioner, take care of patients in the office, at the hospital and during house calls.
“I had that perspective from my earliest memories,” Appelbaum said. “I also had a very strong interest in science, and although I went to a liberal arts college, I continued to pursue science (chemistry) as a major.”
During medical school, surgery was his first clerkship in his third year.
“Almost immediately, I knew that surgery was not what I wanted to do!” Appelbaum said.
He then went back and forth between pediatrics and internal medicine.
“Late in my third year, I finally decided I could not deal emotionally with sick kids,” Appelbaum said. “Looking back, I’m glad I chose internal medicine for my career.”
Appelbaum said he has enjoyed all aspects of medicine – caring for patients and their families, volunteering, advocating and serving the FSU College of Medicine.
“I’ve had the privilege of caring for patients and their families over many years – including the very difficult times of severe illness and death,” Appelbaum said of practicing medicine. “I always tried to either attend calling hours or funerals of my patients.”
He said he also is grateful for being recognized by his peers by serving in leadership positions at the hospital, chosen as medical director for organizations, being elected to the Gold Humanism Honor Society and the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society and receiving a teaching award.
“Working with our students is, without a doubt, what I like most about work at the College of Medicine,” he said.
“I’ve also advocated for underserved populations,” Appelbaum said. “I’ve cared for patients with HIV when there was not much we do but provide comfort, and now, to witness the success we have had in treating this disease.”
On a national level, Appelbaum serves on the board of directors for HealthHIV (HIV/AIDS service organization) and the American Academy of HIV Medicine. He has served as needed with the Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine/Association of Program Directors in Internal Medicine, National Board of Medical Examiners, American Geriatrics Society, American College of Physicians and National LGBT Health Education.
Locally, he has served several years as board secretary for Big Bend Cares, a Tallahassee-based service organization serving the HIV/AIDS community.
When he isn’t busy at work, Appelbaum enjoys bicycle riding and working in the yard of the large property where he and his husband live with their animals.
Appelbaum appreciates the opportunities that internal medicine has given him.
“It’s a great field to enter; it’s very broad, and as a career path, there are many different branches,” Appelbaum said. “I’ve been lucky to do many things within this field: private practice, community health center, academic practice and full-time academics, all while maintaining a clinical practice. This has been a rewarding career and working at the College of Medicine has been the highlight of it!”