Posted by Bill Dann
Dr. William Bicknell

This past month I lost a long-time friend and mentor, William Bicknell, M.D. Bill was the most courageous public servant I have ever witnessed and one of the brightest people I have ever known. He was bigger than life with a large appetite for virtually everything in life. He loved every moment he was alive and everyone in his life; maintaining a smile and laughter in times that others would find very difficult.

Bill’s contributions to Alaska were huge and are largely unknown. He had the foresight and courage to put “War on Poverty” money into Alaska to fund the very first Alaska Native Health Corporations and to develop the modern Community Health Aide Program. He did so based on his experience with the “barefoot doctor” program in Kenya while in the Peace Corps. That investment led to today’s model system for delivery of health care to Alaska Natives, all managed by Alaska Native people.

I could fill volumes with stories of Bill’s courage and contributions to public health around the world. What I do want to share is a list from Bill’s wisdom gathered from a vigorous career in health care planning and management.

I’ll simply put them out there with no comment as they speak for themselves.

“What you need for professional success”

  • A moral compass and worldview
  • Listen and observe
  • Understanding of concepts
  • Knowledge of relevant detail
  • A problem-solving and systems approach
  • Healthy skepticism coupled with humility
  • Know what you don’t know
  • Never kill the messenger
  • Courage – do what’s right, not just expedient
  • Remember, our job is to serve – whether making policy or suturing a wound – those who need help
  • Respect everyone and remember the person who is not at the table
  • Commit to lifelong learning – never stop learning!

12 points — that’s all there is to it.

Thank you, my friend, for all the learning, encouragement and confidence in my work. Wouldn’t have made it without you. You are sorely missed.

— Bill