Why Give? One Resident’s Story

Chief surgical resident Alexander Wade, MD, and his wife Jennifer did not follow a typical path in the journey that led them to Gundersen Lutheran. Chief surgical resident Alexander Wade, MD, and his wife Jennifer did not follow a typical path in the journey that led them to Gundersen Health System. After his graduation from medical school, they relocated to Chicago where Alex began his residency training at a university hospital. Two years later, in search of a residency program that better met their personal and professional goals, the Wades moved to La Crosse so Alex could complete his general surgery residency at Gundersen. Upon completing the final year of his residency, Dr. Wade and his family moved to Viroqua where he practices at the Gundersen Viroqua Clinic. 

An outstanding program worthy of support 
“When we returned to Chicago after my interview in La Crosse, people at the hospital there not only knew of Gundersen, they told me it had a really good reputation,” says Alex. “We had assumed if you’re not talking about Harvard or Johns Hopkins, a residency is going to be pretty much the same everywhere you go. As it turns out, Gundersen is probably better than any other place I could have received my training – including Harvard and Hopkins and those big university programs.”

The Wade’s residency experience has been completely different than what they had known in Chicago. “I don’t know if the residents who start here realize it, but when you come from somewhere else you see Gundersen represents a whole different way of thinking,” says Alex. Jennifer adds, “We were coming from a bigger city, with many more residents and a much bigger program, and they had nothing compared to Gundersen.”

Philanthropy that makes a difference 
“I had always thought of philanthropy as something for the very wealthy: the Bill and Melinda Gates, the Rockefellers, the Gettys,” says Alex.  “It was actually Jennifer’s boss whose example inspired us to be more philanthropic. To him, charitable giving was necessary as a very real way that one person could make a difference. We felt the work of the Foundation matched our interests very well, and what’s nice is you can see what they are doing with your gifts. The Foundation is doing so much for the residents; this was our way of saying thank you.”

Honoring an extraordinary teacher, leader, and mentor 
The Wade’s decision to make an endowment gift in support of The William Kisken, MD, & Thomas Cogbill, MD, Director of General Surgery Residency was based on their great regard for the Foundation’s residency program, and for Dr. Cogbill himself. “From the first minute I met Dr. Cogbill at our interview, I could see there was nothing false about him or his approach to taking care of the residents,” says Alex. In making this gift, “we wanted to make sure people know how much we like and respect Dr. Cogbill, so in the future people will ask ‘who was this Cogbill guy?’ He deserves the recognition, and we want that to live on.”

Continuing the legacy of visionary leadership and teaching excellence
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