Link: University of Iowa

Information About

Alumni Interview

Shirley Mueller, M.D.


(67MS, 71MD, 74R-Pediatrics, 76R-Neurology, 77F-Neurology, 78F-Pediatrics, 78F-Internal Medicine)

What is your hometown?

Waukon, Iowa

What is your official title?

Since 2006, I have been the President and CEO of MyMoneyMD, LLC, a company that provides clarification and guidance to individuals who choose to self-invest.  This followed my seven year on-the-job training at investment firms, and passing various related exams, after leaving the practice of medicine in 1995.  Prior to that, I worked for ten years as a practicing neurologist and before that I was a tenured associate professor at Indiana University.  While at Indiana University, I was Chief of Neurology at Wishard Memorial Hospital. 

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

As a teenager I saw a movie about a woman medical missionary in China.  The selflessness she had, plus the exotic life she led, appealed to me.

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

It is true, no doubt, that blowing up a tube of radioactive material in a microwave in Donald Heistad’s (67R-Internal Medicine) lab was not an achievement, but it was unique.  If we start there, the rest of my career can’t compete because it was usual - NIH grants and committees, plus lots of research papers.

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

I was fortunate enough to be able to do research in the cardiovascular laboratory with Donald Heistad who taught me how to give an excellent research paper.  Also, Dr. Mel Marcus, now deceased, was a terrific role model even though he was not my major mentor.  He could say what he thought, which may not have been flattering, and laugh his way through all those serious sentences which made the recipient feel comfortable even though he/she was being criticized.  This ability is rare and extraordinary. 

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

As I said, my world was limited. The University of Iowa had in-state tuition and Loyola, where I was also accepted, was private and more expensive. Therefore, it was prudent for my mother, who had extremely limited means, to send me to the less expensive school. She sacrificed greatly to do this and I am extremely grateful.

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

First of all, the education was great.  I felt comfortable in my knowledge of neurology wherever I went.  Secondly, my research training was superb and allowed me to obtain funding and be on committees that I otherwise would not have been able to

What still resonates with you today about your training at Iowa?

That it was excellent; the best I have encountered. While on the faculty at Indiana University I had many chances to compare. For me, it's Iowa all the way. I can't imagine being taught any better than I was while there.

Please describe your professional interests.

As part of my company, MyMoneyMD, I write about decision making - obviously a function of the brain. This is an outgrowth of my neurological background. In fact, I will be giving an invited lecture in Paris this fall about the neuropsychology behind decision making.

What are some of your outside interests?

I am very interested in porcelain that was made in China during the time span 1580-1780, and was exported out of the country to Europe. I write and speak about the subject, both abroad as well as in the United States. It was a savior for me when I was working full tilt in private practice; it relaxed me. Now, it is still an important part of my life.

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

Earlier it would have been to work hard, but as I age I see the benefit in having fun (as much as possible).

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

When I was a student and just starting out in medicine, a doctor was respected and his or her words were important to patients. Now, it seems most people are practicing medicine to some degree for themselves. This appears to be because of a level of distrust toward the medical establishment, plus the volume of information on the internet.

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

I am no expert, but my impression is that now the practice of medicine has to be done for love, not money. Additionally, if you don't enjoy medicine, figure out what you can do that you will give you pleasure and do that at least part time.

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

I'm afraid I'm bleak for the immediate future. Since there is always reversion to the mean, I hope in the far future that medicine will be seen for what it is: a noble calling to help others. To me, that is so much better than so many other professions.


Medicine Alumni Society
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