Ronald J. Falk is a leader, mentor, doctor, scientist and, above all, educator. He is an extraordinary clinician and diagnostician with an incredible bedside manner. Rarely do patients not cry when meeting Dr. Falk for the first time and he looks them in the eye and asks “How are you feeling?”. If that doesn’t do it, then the follow up “no, really” certainly will. The floodgates open with that simple question as they finally feel validated after years of not being heard. He then takes the time to educate his patients, and in the process the nephrology fellows working with him, as he describes the pathogenesis of diseases and treatment options in his perfect “radio announcer” voice.
Despite his vast administrator duties, he makes it a priority to educate the next wave of nephrologists taking the time to point out valuable learning pearls with each patient interaction whether it be during a busy clinic, when rounding with the inpatient service or consult team, or when cruising through the emergency room on a Saturday morning trying to find nephrology patients to admit.
He loves to tease trainees and, regardless of how busy he is, he always takes a moment to share a good laugh and remind us all that we are privileged to have these careers and we should be enjoying this journey.
He is the ultimate mentor, providing both career and personal advice. He notoriously asks fellows, graduate students and junior faculty members to describe where they “see themselves in ten years”. Once he knows their vision, he will strategize to make those dreams attainable realities.
If you ask his graduate students they will say that Dr. Falk is as much a scientist as a clinician, even if pipetting isn’t his forte. He asks the right questions and leads those that work in the lab towards experiments that will help answer those questions. He is naturally inquisitive and dearly cares about the pathology of diseases as much as the treatment.
One of the most amazing things about Dr. Falk is that he makes you know that he has your back and will go to bat for you if needed. He has made the UNC Kidney Center feel like a home to all of us and for that, he is the ultimate Maestro.
Fernanda Schober, MD