Portrait of Robert A. Copeland, Jr., MD, oil on canvas, 2018, by Scarlette M. Wilson, MD, MPH.
Robert A. Copeland Jr., MD, the founding member, and inaugural chair of Howard University’s Department of Ophthalmology, made his mark by nurturing students in their development as physicians and as advocates for their patients.
Dr. Copeland stressed the effect of advocacy on patient care and believed that being a steward for patient care required not only clinical excellence, but playing an active role in shaping how health care is managed in the United States.
“We advocate daily for our patients and individuals less fortunate who need our intervention to make a situation more palpable,” he wrote in an “I Am an Advocate” article for the Academy. “To advocate for our ophthalmology profession is an honor. When we advocate, we are first advocating for our patients’ safety and well-being.”
His passion for advocacy is the reason why the OPHTHPAC® Committee, in conjunction with the Academy’s Foundation, established the Robert A. Copeland Jr., MD, Advocacy Education Fund after his unexpected death in 2016.
Copeland Fund founding members, including Academy members and staff, invested more than $50,000 to create a permanent endowment that will fund the fellowship for years to come — honoring the work and spirit of Dr. Copeland, keeping his passion for advocacy and resident education alive. The fund covers the annual cost of one resident fellow to attend the annual Mid-Year Forum, participate in Congressional Advocacy Day, and be recognized as a Copeland Fund Fellow.
With the help of the National Medical Association, the largest and oldest national organization representing African American physicians and their patients in the United States, the following residents have been recognized:
2022: Michael A. Harrell Jr., MD
2021: Rolake Alabi, MD, PhD
2020: Michael S. Quist, MD
2019: Nathan L. Scott, MD, MPP
Video: Copeland Fellow Nathan L. Scott, MD, Brings Lessons Home
2018: Meron Haile, MD
How One YO Is Following in the Footsteps of a Patient Advocacy Giant