Link: University of Iowa

Information About

Alumni Interview


Dennis Samuelson, M.D.

(62BA, 65MD, 68R–Pathology)

What is your hometown?

Burlington, Iowa

What is your official title?

I’m currently retired. I used to be a member, and president of, NuPath, P.C., a group practice in pathology and nuclear medicine providing services to hospitals in western Illinois and southeast Iowa, and later staff physician at the Beu Health Center, Western Illinois University.

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

I grew up on the outskirts of town surrounded by farm land, which included chickens, and across the street from an arboretum. In the absence of television and with few neighbors, I was outdoors most of the time and loved all natural things from rocks to reptiles. My father was a dentist, fisherman and hunter and encouraged an interest in nature and science.

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

I started at Iowa as a pre-dentistry major, but was influenced towards medicine by close friends who were pre-med majors and was encouraged by my parents. I also landed a summer job in a hospital laboratory in Burlington doing everything from glassware and general cleanup to performing frog tests for pregnancy, and was mentored and encouraged by a great pathologist, F. D. Winter, MD.

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

Although not major by most standards, by virtue of a stellar education at the University of Iowa I was given the ability to complete certification in three specialties: the American Board of Pathology, the American Board of Nuclear Medicine and the American Board of Family Practice, as well as given fellowship status. This background provided the opportunity for a wonderfully rewarding and diverse private practice in rural western Illinois and southeast Iowa in anatomic and clinical pathology, diagnostic and therapeutic nuclear medicine, as well as some forensic medicine, while serving as coroner's physician for four counties. In addition to providing new services to rural hospitals I was fortunate to be involved in implementing one of the first frozen blood and cryopreservation services in a community blood bank in the U.S. in Macomb, Illinois.

I enjoyed participating on committees and as a representative on both the local and national level for the College of American Pathologists and the American College of Nuclear Medicine, and served briefly on the Board of Directors of the American Board of Science in Nuclear Medicine.

Being near two major universities allowed me to participate in some academic endeavors as an assistant professor of pathology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria and as an adjunct professor in health sciences at Western Illinois University.

After 28 years of community group practice in pathology and nuclear medicine, and feeling the avalanche of new information in two specialties, I semi–retired to utilize my family practice boards and joined Western Illinois University as a staff physician in University and College Health for three years. There I discovered that our future is secure, as there are many dedicated, ambitious, and talented young students.

In 2002 my wife Virginia (an R.N.) convinced me it was time to attempt payback for some of our many blessings, so we did a medical mission with the Church of Christ and Catholic Sisters of Charity to Bani, Dominican Republic. Later, through Project U.S.A., we did a brief resident stint in general clinic medicine on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation at Eagle Butte, South Dakota.

I am presently completely retired, although I am maintaining my CME's — including the Iowa Family Practice Refresher Course - just in case I'm released again on the unsuspecting public.

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

Dr. F.D. Winter, the pathologist at Burlington Hospital during my undergraduate and medical school years, and Drs. Emory Warner (27BS, 29MD), Jack Layton (43MD), and Fred Stamler (39BA, 43MD) in the Department of Pathology at Iowa.

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

I nearly attended the U.S. Air Force Academy, but was influenced by my father to attend the University of Iowa (a sort of legacy situation). This, along with several friends and the Iowa football successes in Rose Bowls of 1956 and 1958, influenced my decision.

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

Wow, what an education!! As a rotating intern at Denver General Hospital in 1965 it didn't take long to appreciate what I'd been given when comparing comfort level and training to that of other interns from essentially every Big Ten school, but also several on the east coast. I'm convinced also, that I likely would not have been able to pass the American Board of Family Practice exam as a grandfather candidate with only a rotating internship and brief stint as general medical officer in the Air Force and no formal residency, without the great depth and breadth of my medical education.

Please describe your professional interests.

Just about everything, but maybe immunohematology and diagnostic and therapeutic nuclear medicine (especially thyroidology). Family medicine and geriatrics (now that I'm there) are a little more special to me.

What are your outside interests?

I have many interests but too little time, so probably gardening, especially perennials and daylily cultivation along with fly fishing in northeast Iowa, southeast Minnesota, and southwest Wisconsin get the lion’s share of my time. Also tennis, spending time around Galena, Illinois and doing some motorcycling, now that I don't have to worry about dying young. Also teaching classes in Western Illinois University's Learning is Forever (LIFE) program on healthy aging.

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

I believe the opportunity to practice medicine is a wonderful gift and if you persevere and always do your very best for your colleagues and patients, then everything else in your life will usually fall into line.

If you could change one thing about the health care system in the U.S., what would it be?

To improve access to, and the availability of, care. An enormously complicated problem with so many people and variables, but I'm not sure a single payer is the best answer. As in many arenas a monopoly, without competition, can lead to complacency and corruption, not to mention inefficiency.

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

Can there be any other answer other that the enormous explosion of technology and related information?

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

Be thankful that you are blessed with this opportunity and think less about the "me" and the "I" and more about the "you" and "they". Do your very best for each patient and try to experience medicine in an underserved area.

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

I worry a bit about the widespread application of "evidence based medicine" and loss of individualism. There is a limit to the benefits of molecular techniques, sophisticated technology, biotherapeutics, enhanced procedures, etc., so I think there will be increased interest in the "art of medicine" and primary care.


Medicine Alumni Society
Phone: 319-335-8886
Toll Free: 877-MEDIOWA
Fax: 319-384-1746