Robert C. Nuss, MD, former dean of the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville, has received the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award from the South Atlantic Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Headquartered in Orange Park, SAAOG advocates for improvements in all areas of women’s health and represents obstetricians and gynecologists in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. The award recognizes a current or former SAAOG member for outstanding career service and dedication in the field of obstetrics and gynecology.
In 1974, Nuss became Jacksonville’s first full-time formally trained gynecologic oncologist and was part of the first class of physicians nationwide to be certified in that subspecialty. That same year, he joined SAAOG, whose membership is by invitation only — a contrast to many other professional organizations in the medical realm.
“This is a huge honor and it’s very gratifying to be recognized by such a prestigious organization,” Nuss said of the SAAOG Lifetime Achievement Award, which has been awarded annually since 2003.
Training and service
Nuss discovered his interest in OB-GYN during medical school at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He said that was the first specialty in which he was allowed to move beyond didactic sessions and become clinically engaged. He later found gynecologic oncology appealing because of its dynamics, as it involves multiple systems of the body and incorporates surgery.
After completing his residency in OB-GYN at Naval Hospital Philadelphia, Nuss served tours of duty as an OB-GYN medical officer at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in Havelock, North Carolina, where he was chief of service. He concluded his activity duty service as a staff physician at Naval Hospital Jacksonville.
Nuss then completed a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia. His fellowship mentor was George Lewis, MD, the first president of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology and the first director of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ division of gynecologic oncology.
Coming to UF COMJ
After his fellowship, Nuss joined UF COMJ as an associate professor and chief of gynecologic oncology. Nuss, who was later promoted to professor with tenure, was integral in helping UF COMJ gain full membership into the Gynecologic Oncology Group, which supports research for the prevention and treatment of gynecologic cancers.
“At that time, membership was awarded to very few non-medical school institutions,” he said.
Nuss performed clinical research in gynecologic oncology, supplied numerous articles for peer-reviewed journals and authored several book chapters. All the while, he maintained a large referral practice and contributed to the OB-GYN residency program at UF COMJ.
While at UF COMJ, Nuss served as associate dean for clinical affairs, senior associate dean and chief medical officer of UF Health Jacksonville, which was called University Medical Center at the time. He was also a hospital board member.
In 2007, Nuss became the first dean of UF COMJ, serving in that role until he retired in early 2012. During his time as dean, the college expanded its primary care business, establishing more than two dozen practices. Research also became a greater focus, as the college saw a significant increase in external funding.
Nuss is designated as an emeritus professor of the university.
Nuss has been a member of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Florida Obstetric and Gynecologic Society and Florida Society of Clinical Oncology, of which he once served as president.
Membership in other medical societies and organizations has included:
American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists
American Medical Association
American Radium Society
American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology
Duval County Medical Society
Florida Medical Association
Florida Society of Gynecologic Oncology
Society of Gynecologic Oncology
Nuss also served on the Florida Board of Medicine as a gubernatorial appointee.
While working at UF COMJ, Nuss continued to serve in the Navy as a reserve medical officer. He retired as a rear admiral in 1993, after 34 years of service that resulted in a host of accolades and honors, including the Legion of Merit for exceptional conduct.
Today, he continues to serve as board chair of the Professionals Resource Network, a statewide health advocacy group that, among other activity, monitors impaired health care professionals. He also serves as assistant treasurer for Community Hospice & Palliative Care and volunteers as a master gardener for the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.