Link: University of Iowa

Information About


Alumni Interview

William Erkonen, M.D., F.A.C.R.

Portrait

(55BA, 58MD, 71R-Radiology)

What is your hometown?

Sioux City, IA

What interested you to pursue a career in medicine and medical education?

I became interested in medicine while working daily with physicians as an orderly. After retiring from private Radiology practice, I reluctantly entered a career in teaching and medical education, and I soon grew to love teaching.

Please highlight your major career achievements, awards, discoveries, etc.

I received the Freshman Teacher of the Year Award in 1990, 1993, and 1996 and was nominated for the same each year from 1989-1997. I also received the The Holloway Award for research in health sciences education in 1990. I was awarded The Association of University Radiologists’ Whitley Award for the outstanding education paper in both 1991 and 1992, and served on the board of the United States Medical License Examiners as a member from 1996-1998. I was honored as the Junior Professor of the Year from Alpha Omega Alpha/Association of American Medical Colleges in 1994. I’ve also been able to co-author two textbooks, “Radiology 101” and “Normal Radiologic Anatomy” and have been honored with giving the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine commencement address twice. I’ve authored and co-authored several education papers and served on many other boards as well.

Is there a teacher, mentor or UI Carver College of Medicine faculty member who has helped shape your education?

Dr. William Bean taught students to be courteous, sympathetic, and kind to all patients. He was a model physician, and I have encouraged medical students to be like Dr. Bean.

How or why did you choose the University of Iowa for your education and medical training?

I only applied to the University of Iowa medical school, because during the 1950's it was very inexpensive and the only one I could afford.

What kind of professional opportunities or advantages has your University of Iowa medical training provided?

Unlimited opportunities lie ahead for Iowa graduates.

What are some of your outside interests?

Golf, fishing, and sports of all sorts.

Do you have an insight or philosophy that guides you in your professional work?

I like to follow a version of one of Woody Allen's sayings:
"The secret to life is to just keep showing up."

Also, I like to follow what John Greenleaf Whittier said:
"For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: it might have been!"

I love sharing these philosophies with students, especially the medical students.

If you could change one thing about the practice or business of medicine, what would it be?

If I were able, I would do away with or severely limit all malpractice claims.

What is the biggest change you've experienced in medicine since you were a student?

The students and doctors remain similar, but the technological advances are mind boggling.

What one piece of advice would you give to today's medical students?

Never give up. Make them throw you out, but never give up.

What do you see as "the future" of the medicine?

Many of my peers ask me again and again the same question. "What are the medical students like these days, and what is the future of medicine in their hands?" Without hesitation I tell them not to worry. The modern medical student is bright, well educated, dedicated, and far more cosmopolitan than we were as students. The future of medicine is in good hands and will be just fine.

Contact

Medicine Alumni Society
medicine-alumni@uiowa.edu
Phone: 319-335-8886
Toll Free: 877-MEDIOWA
Fax: 319-384-1746