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Robert L. Wears

EMPSF board member Robert L. Wears, M.D., Ph.D., M.S., earns doctorate in industrial safety.

By Matt Galnor.

The varied interests and expertise of Robert L. Wears, M.D., Ph.D., M.S., continue to expand.

Wears, a professor in the department of emergency medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine--Jacksonville, picked up another degree last month, this time a doctorate in industrial safety from the Mines ParisTech in France.

Wears earned his medical doctorate from Johns Hopkins University and earned a master’s degree in computer science and software engineering from the University of North Florida in the mid-1990s.

He has been a leading researcher in patient safety and medical errors for years, but Wears said he wanted to understand more about how other sciences and industries deal with similar challenges.

"A lot of his work in safety had been going on decades before safety became a buzzword in the medical field," said Steven A. Godwin, M.D., FACEP, associate professor and interim chair of the department of emergency medicine.

Wears praised UF and the emergency medicine department for allowing him the "intellectual freedom" to pursue another degree. Godwin chuckles, saying Wears is being too modest and has more than held up his end of the bargain for the college he began working for in the mid-1980s.

Wears has been able to turn his research into significant grants and other funding for UF, which allows residents and fellows to work with Wears on studies and learn from his experience, Godwin said.

"It allows the shaping of residents, making them aware of potential pitfalls and problems that exist," Godwin said.

Wears did not need to take any formal course work because he already had a master’s degree. He said the European model for doctoral research is more of an independent study than in American universities, so he was able to do the research in Jacksonville. He spent about four years on his research and successfully defended his thesis in France last month.

Wears examined several theoretical scenarios, trying to determine why organizations were or were not ready for safety disasters when they hit.

"He’s developing new ways of thinking in areas of patient safety and how we protect our patients when they are in a large setting like a hospital," Godwin said. "Dr. Wears is a phenomenal asset to both the department and the institution."


August 10, 2010

Patient safety leader receives prestigious RWJ grant.

Robert L. Wears, M.D., a professor in the department of emergency medicine's division of emergency medicine research at the University of Florida College of Medicine-Jacksonville, receives a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Investigator Award in Health Policy Research to fund his study on patient safety.

Dr. Wears is co-investigator on the project along with Kathleen M. Sutcliffe, M.S.N., Ph.D., associate dean for faculty development and research at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business. Starting next September, they will spend two and a half years reviewing the patient safety movement from the 1970s to the present.

The Investigator Program provides grants of up to $335,000 to highly qualified individuals to develop, interpret or substantially advance ideas or knowledge that can improve health policy in the United States.



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