Richard Ricketts honored with AAP Arnold Salzberg Mentorship Award

May 2020

Richard Ricketts, MD, emeritus professor of surgery and founding chief of the Emory Division of Pediatric Surgery from 1980-2010, was the recipient of the 2020 Arnold Salzberg Mentorship Award, an esteemed recognition presented by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Section on Surgery (SOSu) to pediatric surgeons who have distinguished themselves as mentors. The award is based on nominations from the entire SOSu membership.

Among Dr. Ricketts' various achievements during his tenure as chief was establishing an accredited pediatric surgery fellowship at Emory in 1996. He was also an advocate of pediatric minimally invasive surgery early in its development. After retiring from Emory in 2014, he joined the Emory Haiti Alliance — a volunteer consortium of Emory medical students, surgery and anesthesiology residents, faculty physicians, and mid-level practitioners — and participated in several of the program's annual trips to Haiti's Central Plateau, the most medically underserved area in the country.

"I personally owe Dr. Ricketts a debt of gratitude since he took a chance on me and hired me as his first fellow," says Alfred Chahine, MD, who completed the fellowship in 1998. He returned to Emory as a faculty member in 2019 after serving as associate professor of clinical surgery and pediatrics at The George Washington School of Medicine & Health Sciences and an attending surgeon at Children's National Health System in Washington, DC. "Dr. Ricketts has inspired generations of Emory students and residents," he adds.

The large number of nominations Dr. Ricketts received included the following comments:

"The dedication he had to his patients and the patience he had with me as a questioning medical student was instrumental in inspiring me to seek a career in pediatric surgery."

"Every day that I work with our fellow, I try to impart some of the teachings and wisdom that Dr. Ricketts passed along to me."

"He is one of a kind in his dedication to teaching and mentorship and should be honored as such."

"Dr. Ricketts has been (and still is) the most influential surgical mentor of my career. His dedication to the training of surgical fellows, residents, and medical students is unsurpassed."

"He was a mentor that you never wanted to disappoint because he dedicated his all to educating you. He drew out the best from everyone around him."