Link: University of Iowa

Information About

Alumni Interview

Stephen Jones, M.D.

Portrait: Stephen Jones, M.D.

63BS, 66MD

What is your hometown?

Denison, Iowa. As you may know this is the home of Donna Reed and I used to help her mother with her groceries at Safeway. Also, James Hansen, Ph.D. (63BA, 65MS, 67PhD), Head of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies at Columbia and known for his recognition of global warming, was a childhood neighbor and classmate.

What is your official title?

Swigert Chair of Medicine
Clinical Vice President for Internal Medicine
Legacy Health System

Professor of Medicine
Oregon Health and Sciences University

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

When I was an undergraduate at the University of Iowa.

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

A fraternity brother suggested that I had the aptitude for medical school. An attending physician suggested that I had an aptitude for internal medicine and after that, academic medicine was encouraged by a series of mentors.

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

My academic appointments have meant a lot to me, first as a house officer at the University of Washington and then the University of Texas Southwestern. My first faculty job was in Dallas and my second in 1975 at the Oregon Health and Sciences University in Portland.

I have been a program director in internal medicine for 30 years, and I consider the internists who have graduated from our program to be my major career achievement. Being selected as a Master of the American College of Physicians this year was a joy.

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

In 1964, during my third year clerkship in medicine, I was fortunate to have Dr. Walter Kirkendall (49R-Internal Medicine) as my attending and Dr. Philip Lindsay (66R-Internal Medicine) as my resident. Lindsay had a great relationship with Dr. William Bean, and I was privileged to see a fair amount of him. It was an inspiring rotation.

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

I was an undergraduate at the University of Iowa. I had limited resources and limited horizons. I applied to only one school. I was fortunate to be at the right place at the right time, and I was accepted for admission.

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

The respect given to the University and to the opinions of the faculty, in particular Dr. Kirkendall, opened the door to my internal medicine residency and my career.

Please describe your professional interests.

My clinical interests now largely rest with patient care and the diagnosis process. I have some residual expertise in infectious diseases, but most of my teaching and limited practice is in general internal medicine. Teaching disease recognition and the physical examination to house staff each day gives me the energy to complete my day of administrative work. I am actively involved in hospital quality and patient safety.

What are some of your outside interests?

I have a wife and a ten-year-old daughter. We have a cabin on the Oregon Coast with a meadow and 15 acres of rain forest. I go there regularly to crab, fish and hunt mushrooms. I enjoy cooking and charcuterie. The later takes me back to my family’s rural roots.

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

Hard work within a group is fun and satisfying: do not avoid work, and do not avoid groups.

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

Replace fee-for-service, market-based incentives with rewards that involve professionalism, humanism, and intellectual involvement. The most practical change that I would support is the instant installation of universal electronic medical records.

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

I believe that the two changes that have most affected internal medicine are modern imaging and the emergence of emergency medicine.

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

This is an exciting time to be a physician. Learn to accept change, work in teams, be a salesperson for your cause and get along with others.

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

In the future, the organization of American medicine will more closely resemble medicine in France, England and Scandinavia.


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