What is your hometown?
What is your official title?
Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
UW Madison – School of Medicine and Public Health
How/when did you become interested in science and medicine?
I became interested in medicine growing up as a missionary doctor’s son in China, and then that interest developed more later when we returned from my father’s overseas duties to Dubuque where he developed his practice as a general surgeon.
What interested you to pursue a career in medicine and medical education?
My interest in medical education was encouraged by the professional satisfaction that I experienced teaching and mentoring medical students as a resident in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Iowa in the 1970’s. From that experience, I decided that to be more involved in education I needed formal training in educational theory, curriculum design and measurement. When I returned to Iowa City after my two–year military obligation, I enrolled in the Masters Program in Health Education.
Please highlight your major career achievements, awards, discoveries, etc.
I’ve been fortunate to have enjoyed career satisfaction in a number of areas, beginning with having received a number of faculty teaching awards and recognitions from the medical students in Iowa City spanning the late seventies to my departure in 1993. I was selected as Chair of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at the University of Wisconsin in 1993, and was able to help build the department into a respected academic unit over the course of the next 14 years. I was then elected the National President of our specialty’s largest educational and advocacy membership society, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists [ACOG], and served in that capacity until 2008. More recently I have been involved in women’s health care advocacy, through work done with Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health [PRCH] the Centering Healthcare Institute [CHI]; groups which promote aspects of women’s reproductive health care ranging from contraceptive equity and abortion access, to improvement in maternity care in this country. I have recently been elected as Board Chair of both of those non-profit groups. I am also proud of my development work overseas in Afghanistan and Central America, working to strengthen the resident education systems in those parts of the world.
Is there a teacher, mentor or UI Carver College of Medicine faculty member who has helped shape your education?
The department chair both during my medical education and as a resident was William Keettel, who encouraged me to pursue a degree program in medical education. Dr. Robert Kretzschmar also encouraged my educational interests as well as my interest in contributing to ACOG.
How or why did you choose the University of Iowa for your education and medical training?
My father, Dr. Paul Laube (32BA, 36MD), graduated from the University of Iowa and I realized that his training had served him well; there was no need to look further. As a resident of the state, and since I needed to fund my medical school education through loans, I realized the University of Iowa was a bargain for my four years.
What kind of professional opportunities or advantages has your University of Iowa medical training provided?
In addition to excellent clinical exposure as a medical student and resident, the University of Iowa was then one of only two programs nationally that offered Masters in Health Science Education programs. By the time I graduated with an education degree in 1978, I was only the second faculty person in an Obstetrics and Gynecology department in the nation to have attained an advanced education degree.
Please describe your professional interests.
My professional interests continue to be teaching and educational development throughout the spectrum of medical education — medical school, residency and post graduate learning.
What are some of your outside interests?
My outside interests are travelling, which I can combine with my professional interests. I enjoy spending time at lakes in Northern Minnesota when time permits, and spending time with my wife of 42 years. Seeing my grown children is a special treat, as they both live far from home - my son in Nicaragua with his wife and our first grandson (age 15 months) and my daughter, a musician who lives in California.
Do you have an insight or philosophy that guides you in your professional work?
An overriding principle, which guides my work, is the realization that the education of people and professionals is the key to human welfare worldwide.
If you could change one thing about the health care system in the United States, what would it be?
Our health care system suffers from being a for–profit, fee for service system which is volume driven and controlled by special interests led by the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. The country needs to get in line with the rest of the industrialized world and develop a comprehensive single payer system, while allowing for optional coverage through a regulated insurance industry for those who can afford it.
What is the biggest change you've experienced in medicine since you were a student?
The biggest change in medicine as I’ve experienced it is the development of technology, which has outstripped our ability to use it meaningfully for the majority of people. In our system, this creates further disparities; magnifying the differences between the "haves" and the "have not’s".
What one piece of advice would you give to today's medical students?
Medical students should pursue the practice of medicine that most interests them. I’ve been telling students for 35 years that they will "do best what they like best".
What do you see as "the future" of the medicine?
The future of medicine has been pretty well defined by our demographers and work force analysts; more niche practice and subspecialization, more salaried positions, larger groups, less interest in the business of medicine, more international outreach, and I believe, a gradual return of interest in primary care - provided that health care reform rewards those physicians with the return of competitive wages and salaries. The Gen X’ers, the Gen Y’ers and the Millennials will define all of this for us.
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