Clinical Laboratory At UVM Dedicated To Thomas D. Trainer – M.D. And Joan F. Trainer

Clinical Laboratory At UVM Dedicated To Thomas D. Trainer – M.D. And Joan F. Trainer

University of Vermont Medical School

On 11 December 2006, Bernhoff A. Dahl, M.D., and Richard Tarrant, recent candidate for United States Senator from Vermont, were the keynote speakers at the dedication of the Clinical Laboratory at the University of Vermont.

The following is a script from Dr. Dahl’s presentation.

“It is a joy and privilege to participate in the dedication of the Dr. Thomas D. and Joan F. Trainer Clinical Laboratory a UVM. I spent four wonderful and productive years as a resident in pathology in 1964 to 1969, under the fine tutelage of Dr. Trainer, often on a one-on-one basis, before going on to my service obligation, as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer, at the CDC in Atlanta.

In 1971, I was named Chief of Pathology, at the tender age of 33, at the Eastern Maine Medical Center, in Bangor, Maine, Dr. Trainer’s home town. I always thought that the position was due to some clerical error. Decades later, at my early retirement, in 1995, I learned that Dr. Trainer had played the key role in recommending me for that position, that opportunity of a lifetime.

As I thought about this wonderful dedication to my all-time favorite teacher, Dr. Trainer, I thought of the Journey we have taken together, as teacher and student. As you may recall the word Journey, from old French, is the distance one can travel in a day. However, the Journey that any specific teacher and student take together, may be a short one, sometimes weeks, often a year.

But my Journey with Dr. Trainer lasted for almost 25 years, for as a practicing pathologist I did hundreds, actually almost 1000 “frozen section” cases, in small hospitals throughout Maine. I alone made decisions on whether or not, additional surgery would be carried out….mastectomies, colon resections, extensive multi-staged surgery for pancreatic cancer, etc…

Only the lady who washed my underwear knew how stressful some of those cases were.

However, Dr. Trainer was there looking over my shoulder, along with the wisdom he had imparted on me,…wisdom, knowledge tempered by judgment, wisdom that he gave me here at UVM decades earlier.

It is said that “to teach, is to touch the future”

It also said that “to teach, is to touch lives.” The concept of “six degrees of separation,” states that any person may be linked with anyone in the world by just six separate steps or contacts. Dr. Trainer’s teaching has touched and still touches, the lives of hundreds of thousands of Mainers, because, as we built Dahl-Chase Pathology Associates we added other pathology residents from UVM. We covered, and still cover about 40% of the population of Maine. However, to carry this logic beyond just Maine, Dr. Trainer’s wisdom and expertise shared with over 200 resident and fellows in pathology over the past 46 years, touches millions of patients in America, Canada, and beyond, with just two degrees of separation, Dr. Trainer, his resident or fellow, and the patient.

On a personal level, Dr. Trainer, also known as “fatha” has a great sense of humor, a personality trait that comes in handy in dealing with incalitrant or struggling residents (like me!) and staff physicians in the hospitals served by UVM.

Dr. Trainer surrounded himself with great people, the greatest of which was, no doubt, his lovely wife Joan, known as “motha”, also a native of Maine. My wife, Elaine, another Bangor, Maine native, and I remember her most fondly.

Elaine with allow me only one brief story. Several decades ago, while attending a College of American Pathology conference in LA, Dr. Trainer, a few other pathologists, and I “invited ourselves” as guests of the imaginary Colonel Becker, into the Oscar Awards at the Ambassador Hotel, the same hotel where Bobby Kennedy was shot in 1975. We sat down with Shelly Winters of The Poseidon Adventure fame, had a few drinks, as we tried to catch up with Miss Winter’s consumption. We couldn’t.

One very special aspect of Dr. Trainer’s teaching was that, as a pathologist, we should go beyond the laboratory and deal with the whole patient, not just their blood and other fluids, not just their biopsy, or resected organs. We were encouraged to go on patient rounds with clinicians, to visit patients for more direct information as we worked our magic on their specimens. As pathologists, we are the last of the great magicians in Medicine.

Psychiatrist Carl Jung noted that: “One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings.”

Dr. Thomas D. trainer is chief among these. I thank you, your residents and fellows in pathology, and the millions of patients whose lives and bodies you have touched, thank you.

May God continue to bless you, Dr. Trainer, and the people around you.”


Bernhoff A. Dahl, M.D., earned degrees in chemistry and Bible from Wheaton College (Illinois) and M.D. from Cornell University, and completed residency in pathology at the University of Vermont. After completing his service obligation as an Epidemic Intelligence Officer with the CDC in Atlanta, he was selected as the Chief of Pathology at the Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, Maine. Dr. Dahl practiced Pathology for 25 years as the managing partner of Dahl-Chase Pathology Associates which serves 16 hospitals and numerous physician office laboratories in New England. Based on his 25 years of “in-the-trenches” group medical practice and a host of related business ventures inside and outside of medicine he developed a keen insight into Organizational Design and Dynamics with a focus on Synergy and Strategic Planning. His book Optimize Your Life! is an international best seller with editions published in Korea, Japan, Mainland China, Indian Subcontinent (Tata McGraw-Hill) and the worldwide Spanish edition by Random-House. Contact

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