Norman M. Rich Oral History Interview, May 21, 2019

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Summary

Creator:
Rich, Norman M. and Duke University. Medical Center. Department of Surgery.
Abstract:
Retired U.S. Army Colonel, Dr. Norman M. Rich, MD, a vascular surgeon, refined vascular surgical techniques as a young surgeon in Vietnam. His expertise and techniques saved many soldiers from limb amputation or death, which led him to be known as the surgeon who heralded a new age in vascular injury management, with particular focus on venous reconstruction. After Vietnam, Rich went on to a long academic career in the field of vascular surgery. This collection contains 1 oral history interview conducted on May 21, 2019 by Dr. Justin Barr as part of the Dr. David Sabiston Oral History Project. In the interview, Rich discusses his early life in a copper mining town in Arizona; early interest in the repair of blood vessels; education; decision to become a surgeon; military service as a surgeon in Vietnam and later running the vascular service at Walter Reed and running the vascular fellowship program; Rich and Sabiston's friendship and warm working relationship; Rich's career in medicine after retiring from active duty; attending conferences, domestic and international, with Sabiston; and Rich's commitment to teamwork.
Extent:
1 Interview (1 transcript) and 86.1 MB
Collection ID:
OH.RICHN

Background

Scope and content:

Includes 1 oral history interview with Dr. Norman M. Rich conducted on May 21, 2019 with Dr. Justin Barr as part of the Dr. David Sabiston Oral History Project.
In the May 21, 2019 interview, Rich discusses his early life in a copper mining town in Arizona; early interest in the repair of blood vessels; education; decision to become a surgeon; military service as a surgeon in Vietnam and later running the vascular service at Walter Reed and running the vascular fellowship program; Rich and Sabiston's friendship and warm working relationship; Rich's career in medicine after retiring from active duty; attending conferences, domestic and international, with Sabiston; and Rich's commitment to teamwork.

Biographical / historical:

Retired U.S. Army Colonel, Norman M. Rich, MD, was born in Ray, Arizona, on January 13, 1934. Rich attended the University of Arizona, Tucson, before transferring to Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, where he earned a BA (1956) and an MD (1960). He completed a rotating internship at the U.S. Army Tripler General Hospital (now known as Tripler Army Medical Center) in Honolulu, Hawaii, and a general surgery residency at Letterman General Hospital (now Letterman Army Hospital) in San Francisco, California. He was assigned to the Second Surgical Hospital as chief of surgery, first at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in 1965 and later in An Khe in the Republic of Vietnam (1965-1966).
During the Vietnam War, Rich, a young, newly trained surgeon and chief of surgery for the 2nd Mobile Army Surgical Hospital unit, refined vascular surgical techniques particularly for arteriovenous injuries to the extremity, emphasizing the importance of venous and arterial system repairs. His expertise and techniques saved many soldiers from limb amputation or death, which led him to be known as the surgeon who heralded a new age in vascular injury management, with particular focus on venous reconstruction.
After Vietnam, Rich was the first vascular surgery fellow at Walter Reed General Hospital (1966-1967), Washington, D.C., and he became chief of vascular surgery and director of the vascular fellowship program (1967-1978). His first academic appointment was as associate professor, George Washington University, Washington, D.C. (1973-1978). In 1976, he was appointed professor of surgery at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) School of Medicine, later becoming the first chairman of the department of surgery in 1977. At the time of his retirement from active duty in 1980, he made a second commitment to serve as chairman. He served as chief, division of vascular surgery (1977-1999) and director of the Vietnam Vascular Registry. He was the academic advisor to the department of surgery, and co-directed the vascular fellowship program at Walter Reed Army Medical Center from 1978 to 1993 when he became emeritus. He was appointed professor of military medicine in 1983, and he became the Leonard Heaton and David Packard Professor in 1999. Rich stepped down as the founding chairman of surgery in October 13, 2002, after more than 25 years of service, and USUHS announced the establishment of the Norman M. Rich Department of Surgery.
When his successor, Colonel David Burris, MD deployed to Iraq in 2003, Rich stepped in as acting chairman. Burris died in August 2020, Rich continued to serve as interim chair. He served as senior advisor to the third Uniformed Services University (USU) chair of surgery, assisting with the early development of the Military Health System Strategic Partnership American College of Surgeons (ACS). Rich has received numerous awards and honors throughout his career. At USUHS (now known as USU), he was named Outstanding Civilian Educator (1983-1984), and was awarded the Exceptional Service Medal (1989), the Outstanding Service Medal (2000), the USU Medal (2001), and the Carol Johns Medal as the Outstanding Faculty Member (2003). He also is a founder of the USU Surgical Associates.
Rich lectured in more than 45 countries, published more than 300 manuscripts, and authored and co-authored 5 books. He served on 10 editorial boards of clinical journals.

Acquisition information:
Accession A2020.018 (transferred by Mary-Russell Roberson, February 2020)
Processing information:

Processed by Lucy Waldrop: February 2020

Arrangement:
Organized into the following series: Interview, May 21, 2019.
Rules or conventions:
DACS

Contents

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Restrictions:

None.

Terms of access:

Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Norman M. Rich Oral History Interview, Duke University Medical Center Archives.