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Faculty Focus: Annette Schlueter, MD, PhD

Date: Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Annette Schlueter, MD, PhDWhat is your hometown?

Oak Lawn, Illinois

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

My parents both worked in science fields. My dad was a PhD researcher for Armour Pharmaceuticals and my mom was a medical technologist. I went to college intending to pursue one of these paths, but in my senior year decided somewhat on a whim, to take the MCAT and apply to medical school. In retrospect I’m sure my mom would say that I was destined for a career in medicine, as she says my favorite book to check out from the library when I was young, was about emergency medicine!

When did you join the University of Iowa faculty?

1998

How or why did you choose to join the faculty at the University of Iowa?

I came to the University of Iowa to do my residency in Clinical Pathology, never really intending to stay here. I then got involved in research here, working with Dr. Tom Waldschmidt, and decided to stay for my Transfusion Medicine (TM) fellowship. When I finished the fellowship, a position was open in the TM division and I enjoyed living in Iowa City/working with the people in DeGowin Blood Center, so I applied for that position. In retrospect, that was a great opportunity for me, and I have never regretted that decision.

Is there a teacher or mentor who helped shape your career?

Dr. Garland Hicks, microbiology professor at Valparaiso University and my work/study supervisor. He really encouraged me to go into medicine as he said I would be bored in some of the other careers that I was considering at the time.

Dr. Barry Ruskin, pathology professor at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. He saw my interest in immunohematology and helped me arrange medical school clerkships at the University of Minnesota and St. Louis University in Transfusion Medicine, which solidified my choice of this subspecialty even before residency.

Dr. Ron Strauss, medical director of DeGowin Blood Center when I was a resident. He was not here the day that I interviewed for residency, but he took the time to call me and it is largely due to that interaction that I decided to rank U of Iowa Pathology as my first choice for residency.

How do you see your faculty role impacting medicine and/or science?

One favorite part of my job is teaching. I really enjoy educating the next generation of physicians—the fellows, residents, and medical students with whom I interact, as well as my apheresis patients, and the nurses and medical technologists with whom I work. I am also very excited to play a role in bringing the new generation of life-saving cellular therapies (e.g., CAR-T cells, genetically modified cells, etc.) to patients through clinical trials and ultimately FDA-approved routes. As medical director of DeGowin Blood Center’s Patient Services and Tissue and Cellular Therapies, I am privileged to be able to facilitate this process for all such products administered at UIHC, in a way that is compliant with FDA regulations and accrediting agencies.

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

The introduction of electronic medical records. I clearly remember the concise paper records (sometimes with barely legible handwriting) that existed for the patients I saw as a medical student. They were truly “notes” about the patient’s status rather than essays!

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

Take some time in your crazy busy workday to truly care, not just for your patients, but about your patients. Put yourself in their shoes to the extent possible and get to know them a little bit beyond their medical problem. You and your patient will both be better off for it, at the end of the day.

In what ways are you engaged in professional activities outside the University (i.e. population-based research, mentoring high school students, sharing your leadership/ expertise with organizations or causes, speaking engagement off campus, etc.)?

I give educational presentations to various groups, including medical technologists, residents, and non-medical groups (including church groups) about topics related to Transfusion Medicine.

What are some of your outside (personal) interests?

Photography, making notecards to support community nurses in eSwatini, singing in our church choir, gardening, reading, spending time with my family.

Learn more about Annette Schlueter, MD, PhD.