A Message From
Richard J. Ehrlichman, MD, Boston Surgical Society President
DR. EHRLICHMAN is an Assistant Surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital and an instructor at Harvard Medical School. He is a member of both the division of Plastic Surgery and the MGH Burn Associates. Follow us on twitter: @BostonSurgical | Thank-you to our sponsor: TAKEDA
Dr. Russell Nauta, MD FACS
It is with great sadness that the Boston Surgical Society reports the passing of former President Russell J. Nauta on June 12, 2020 after a traffic accident. Russ served as President of the Society from 2013 to 2014, and as current President of the Society it is extremely difficult to announce this news. Russ was my Senior Resident at the Brigham and constant fixture of the Society both as President and a member who never missed a meeting. Dr. Nauta was born and raised in New London Connecticut, the son of a skilled craftsman and a nurse. He would frequently comment on how the skills of his father were carried over into his career as a surgeon. He attended Wesleyan University where he met his wife Claire shortly before graduating in 1973. They were married the next year. Claire was the perfect surgeon's wife, patient and always present at events, kind, and never forgot a resident's name. It is a tribute to Russ that his daughter, Allison, became a surgeon as well. After graduation from Georgetown Medical School and finishing his residency at the Brigham, Russ returned to Georgetown becoming Professor of Surgery and Director of the Residency Program in General Surgery as well as the Chief of the General Surgery and Surgical Oncology Divisions. He cared for indigent patients for the Catholic Charities of Washington, DC. When funding ran out for faculty supported DC General Hospital, his Division supported the institution with uncompensated general surgery and trauma coverage. At Georgetown, fifty medical students annually sought Dr. Nauta’s written support for residency training, representing 25 percent of the graduating class. Over the period of a decade, he transformed Georgetown's residency training into one of the dominant academic programs in the country. Later the Nauta Award for outstanding faculty teaching was established at Georgetown for recognition of his many contributions to the University and its medical program. Russ returned to Boston in 1998 continuing his work as a surgeon, educator and researcher at Mount Auburn Hospital training many future surgical leaders. As a Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School, he served for nearly two decades as a member of its Admissions Committee. He held many national leadership roles in the American College of Surgeons and was appointed to its Board of Governors in 2014. Russ wrote numerous scholarly articles and recently contributed a chapter to the book Selected Readings in Surgery. A former trauma surgeon, he saved the life of Dic Donohue, a transit police officer who was critically wounded in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. Russ had only recently retired in December of 2019 after serving twenty-two years as Chairman of Surgery at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge and Vice-Chairman of Surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. As Janet Clough, President of Mount Auburn stated, “Russ was a giant among surgeons, a well-respected, beloved critical care physician.” My memories of Russ are as a giant as well, figuratively and literally. He eschewed wearing a white coat because of his tall stature, yet along with his towering presence came well-earned respect and love among his patients, residents and compatriots alike. I remember him as a fantastic Chief Resident who was slow to anger, ready to forgive and taught by example. His favorite expression before going to the OR was “fire up!”. We will all miss his kindness and guidance at the meetings of the Boston Surgical Society.