Sanford School of Medicine School of Medicine

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Lori Hansen, M.D.

Lori Hansen, M.D., campus dean, Yankton

Establishing a Gold Standard in Yankton                                

By Kim Lee

Lori Hansen, M.D., like most physicians, wears many hats.

Professionally, she's the first female dean of a SSOM clinical campus; she's the nation's expert on integrated longitudinal education (though she'd be quick to deny it); and she is a sought-after speaker on the topic, internationally and domestically. Personally, she's a wife and mother of three children.She's got a plethora of speaking gigs and presentations under her belt; she's hosted many other medical school personnel from around the country for site visits; and she's been asked to serve as a consultant for med schools that are interested in developing an integrated longitudinal program like USD's.

This fall, she'll travel to Australia for the 2010 Consortium of Longitudinal Integrated Clerkships (CLIC) Conference to present a poster and oral presentation. And in 2011, she'll facilitate the annual CLIC Conference, as the Yankton campus will play host to international visitors. Hansen said, "These meetings are held in places around the world and the U.S., and next year, we're bringing it back here to where longitudinal integrated programs began. That's really exciting."

The Yankton program may be a unique model for medical education, but it's congruent with what national standards and the Flexner Report recommend. Hansen said, "Because of the continuity care experience we offer, students really get a more real-life experience of what it's like to practice medicine.

"Our students do well academically, and professionally, they've been able to secure the residency positions of their choice," she continued. "We are very happy that we have also had success in recruiting our students back to the Yankton community to practice medicine because of the relationships they've built. And they are now our teachers in the program, which is wonderful to see."

In addition, Hansen, along with colleague H. Bruce Vogt, M.D., the medical school's family medicine clinical chair, served as principal investigators to secure a federal grant to address the shortage of health care professionals in rural areas. This grant, awarded last fall, is being utilized to expand the Yankton Rural Area Health Education Center, which aims to increase the number, diversity, quality and geographic distribution of health care providers throughout the state.

But for all of her accomplishments, Hansen won't hesitate to show appreciation for the mentors she had early on in her career; she also notes a supportive family has been of great benefit.    

As a female coming up the ranks and surrounded by male influence, she found her best advocates among her male mentors. "When I went to medical school, there weren't a lot of women in medicine at that time. But I was fortunate to have had some great role models along the way; they gave me great advice and really took an interest in my education and career. I hope I can do the same for others," she said.

Upon encouragement from her older brother - a soon-to-be cardiologist - when she was an undergraduate, a young Hansen applied to medical school. During her residency in Yankton, she was under the guidance of Mike McVay, M.D., the program director; she also worked with Rodney R. Parry, M.D., now the medical school dean, who helped steer her toward pulmonary medicine as her specialty. Later, Robert Talley, M.D., former dean of the medical school, introduced Hansen into a career in medical education. "I was in the right place at the right time; in 1989, Dr. Talley was in the process of initiating the longitudinal model. The climate of medicine was changing at that time, shifting from inpatient to outpatient, shorter hospital stays, and a push for primary care, which we are seeing again now, 20 years later."

Amidst all of her responsibilities as an involved parent of an active 10-year-old and commitments to innovative medical education, down time is rare. But de-stressing might be a simple recipe for Hansen. "I'd like to someday volunteer, here in Yankton or on mission trips. And I'd like to golf more regularly than two or three times a year," Hansen joked.

What would she tell young women considering a career in medicine?

"Do what you love. If you're interested in health care, it's a calling, not a job. Don't let the politics and business of medicine get in the way of taking care of patients. It's a great career," she said.

Hansen continued, "I have been blessed in that I've been able to combine a career in health care seeing patients, and also being involved in medical education with medical students, making a difference in their lives and the lives of patients."