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Alumni Interview

Portrait: Robert Turner, M.D.

Robert Turner

52BA, 54MD

What is your hometown?

My hometown is Dunkerton, Iowa, but I currently live in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

How/when did you become interested in science and medicine?

As an Iowa farm boy I was aware of farm injuries requiring surgical care. My father had his left forearm and hand amputated due to a corn shredder injury in 1933.

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

The opportunity to teach interns and residents, and the opportunity for clinical research.

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

I was the first surgeon to do a surgical procedure in a laminar flow ("clear room") operating room in January 1966 at Lovelace Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I have given scientific presentations regarding autologous blood transfusions and received a teaching award from Lovelace Medical Center.

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

Dr. William Hamilton (43BA, 46MD, 51R-Anesthesiology) instructed me on how to give spinal anesthesia. It was very useful when I had to provide anesthesia as a U.S. Public Health Service Medical Officer at Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. I was the first USPHS Medical Officer at that facility and started in July of 1955.

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

I was a state resident who listened to "Dutch" Regan broadcast University of Iowa football games in 1939 while I mopped the floors at home (I was eleven years old that November, when the season closed with a loss to Michigan). I continued to follow University of Iowa athletics. The high reputation of the University of Iowa also influenced my decision. It was close enough to home that I could hitch-hike and still tend the honeybees that produced comb honey that I sold to stores in Waterloo, Iowa. I could also take the WCF&N and CRANDIC trolley lines to Iowa City.

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

I found that I was very well trained for my internship at the Maricopa County Hospital and Memorial Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. The medical school training I received, and my internship helped to make me competent for the two years of my required service at Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, serving Cherokee and Creek Native Americans.

Please describe your professional interests.

As a clinical faculty member for the University of New Mexico Department of Orthopaedic Surgery with rank starting as clinical associate and ending as clinical professor, I have taught 72 orthopaedic residents on clinical rotations. I have authored scientific articles for the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, Spine, and Orthopaedic Transactions.

What are some of your outside interests?

I have served on boards of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Lovelace Medical Foundations, New Mexico Conference of Churches, Monte Vista Christian Church, Black River Center for Learning and I provided support for Albuquerque’s OFFcenter Community Art Program. I also enjoy gardening and have traveled to every continent except Antarctica.

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

Be knowledgeable, devoted, honest and introspective.

If you could change one thing about the health care system in the United States, what would it be?

I would have well organized, managed care multi-specialty units organized to serve the population throughout the nation, with prepaid insurance from private and/or governmental sources.

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

I have seen technical advances in diagnostic equipment and communication, advances in procedures to provide longevity, pain relief and improved quality of life, and pharmaceuticals effective for various conditions.

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

Keep current with medical advances.

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

I see eventual extensive organizational change for health care delivery and an increased use of communication methods for education, patient care and health education.

Contact

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