Roman DeSanctis, MD, director emeritus of Clinical Cardiology at Massachusetts General Hospital, is widely recognized for the extraordinary care and friendship he provided to his patients, and for the hundreds of young doctors he trained to practice medicine with the same humanity.
Lesser known is that Dr. DeSanctis has arranged a gift from his retirement account to foster a new generation of cardiologists in academic medicine.
Lesser known is that Dr. DeSanctis has arranged a gift from his retirement account to foster a new generation of cardiologists in academic medicine. By simply directing his retirement plan administrator to distribute funds he doesn’t use during life to the Department of Cardiology, this legendary mentor leaves a legacy for many decades to come.
A Career In Academic Medicine
“What you hope and wish is that you have enough money to do these things before you pass away,” Dr. DeSanctis says, reflecting on why his gift is planned and not immediate. “But unfortunately, in academic medicine, you don’t get rich.”
Of course, getting rich isn’t why Dr. DeSanctis chose a career at a teaching hospital. As a Harvard Medical School student, he aspired to be like his own mentors. So despite his distaste for New England winters, he scrapped a return to his native Tucson, Arizona, and joined Mass General as an intern in 1955.
At the time, government funding favored physician-scientists who wished to gain a foothold and carve out a niche at Mass General. Often, early-career researchers could leverage existing grants to pay for preliminary studies and thus build momentum in their work.
But today’s environment of funding cutbacks means future leaders of medicine are pressured to generate their own funding, Dr. DeSanctis says. “The problem is you can’t move forward unless you continue to produce, and you can’t produce unless you continue to have the funding,” he explains. The vicious cycle leads some promising young physicians to abandon academic medicine.
A Legacy You Can Leave
Dr. DeSanctis believes that talented researchers, clinicians and faculty who devote themselves to Mass General are at the heart of its core excellence.
Dr. DeSanctis believes that talented researchers, clinicians and faculty who devote themselves to Mass General are at the heart of its core excellence. So he made a long-term philanthropic commitment that will aid in recruiting and retaining the best in the business.
He identified his retirement account as the tool to use to reach his charitable goal. Pragmatic as well as generous, Dr. DeSanctis knows that leaving retirement assets to his heirs would trigger taxes and reduce the value. He decided it was better to give the assets to Mass General and realize their full value.
Dr. DeSanctis acknowledges that an uncertain future may impact his personal finances. “You never know how long you’re going to live and how much you’re going to need,” he says. So he’ll continue to meet his lifetime expenses with his retirement account, and make his planned gift only from the assets that remain.
Celebrating Hospital Supporters
A member and an ambassador of the Phillips Society at Mass General, Dr. DeSanctis also appreciates the symbolism of the legacy group which celebrates hospital supporters who make similar long-term commitments.
Charitable estate planning brings a sense of order to one facet of life, Dr. DeSanctis adds. “It immediately sits with you in a positive way as something you can do,” he says. “It’s a legacy you can leave after you depart.”
Philanthropy built Mass General, Dr. DeSanctis concludes. And today it remains the key to preserving and enhancing the excellence at its core.
To learn more about how you can remember the hospital in your estate plan and create a legacy to advance medicine, please contact us.