The lasting, larger-than-life legacy of Dr. Norman Rose, a “Guardian of the Profession”

Norman Rose, D.O.’63, FACOS, FICS, DFACOS, began contemplating a career in medicine when he was six; he decided to become a surgeon at age 12, after he had his appendix removed.

“That surgeon made me feel pretty good,” he recalls. Years later, as a second-year student at the College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery, now DMU, he was invited by Dr. Lloyd Ficke, head of the pathology department, to become his lab assistant. The role included teaching, which he continues to love doing today.

“With all the new changes in medicine, all the new technology and advances, it has become more exciting to me than ever to be involved in all levels of medical education, to be able to contribute,” he says.

Dr. Rose’s twin passions of osteopathic medicine and teaching have fueled an illustrious career: He taught for years at DMU while serving Des Moines General Hospital as chief of staff, chair of the department of surgery and director of the surgical residency program. He now is clinical professor of surgery at Nova Southeastern University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine in Broward County, FL, and a clinical professor at Larkin University in Miami. He’s also academic director emeritus of the general surgery residency program, which he founded, at Larkin Community Hospital.

“I’ve been involved in training about 11,000 osteopathic physicians, and I’ve graduated more than 90 surgical residents in my career,” he says. “To me, that’s my legacy and the legacy passed on to me by my teachers. I still get excited; I still love it.”

He continues to be excited about his medical alma mater, too: Dr. Rose, D.O.’63, FACOS, FICS, DFACOS, joined the DMU Legacy Society in 2019 with a gift designated in his will to create a scholarship for third- and fourth-year COM students, with preference given to students accomplished and interested in surgery. The Legacy Society honors donors and their spouses who make planned gifts or bequests to the University.

“To see the University grow from a college to a university and from having just one program of osteopathic medicine to having many programs in various fields of medicine – it’s almost mind-boggling. And I’ve so enjoyed returning and watching that growth and the involvement the University has had in the community and the asset it’s been to the community,” he says. “But even greater than that, the asset of Des Moines University has been its graduates and their accomplishments. I’ve been involved from the onset, when we had five schools of osteopathic medicine to over 40 now, of which Des Moines University is responsible for a combination of deans and presidents of eight of those schools. That gives you an idea of what Des Moines University brings out in people and that dedication and paying back and returning to the profession.”

Named a “Guardian of the Profession” by the American Osteopathic Association, Dr. Rose is a Fellow of the International College of Surgeons, past president of the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons and the first to be named an ACOS Distinguished Fellow. He has received the Guy D. Beaumont Jr. FACOS Award of Academic Excellence for improving the quality of osteopathic surgical education; the Orel F. Martin Medal, ACOS’s highest honor; the Iowa Osteopathic Medical Association’s Physician of the Year Award; and the American Cancer Society Harold W. Morgan Outstanding Volunteer Award. He also served as Grand Marshal at DMU’s 2018 Commencement.


Learn more about the Legacy Society online or by contacting the Development & Alumni Relations office at (515) 271-1387.

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