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Faculty Focus: Paul Gellhaus, MD

Date: Monday, July 1, 2019

Paul Gellhaus, photoWhat is your hometown? 

Bettendorf, Iowa

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

I have always been interested in science and math I originally studied chemical engineering at Iowa State. But when I looked at jobs for chemical engineers none of those interested me. My sister, who is three years older than me, was going to medical school at the University of Iowa and that influenced me to take a look at it myself. It seemed more interesting to me and fit better with what I envisioned for my career trajectory. It only occurred to me my last year of college to pursue a career in medicine. My parents did mission work when I was younger, and I joined them on those trips so that instilled in me a sense of social justice, so I combined my love for math and science into a degree in medicine. 

When did you join the University of Iowa faculty?


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

I am very interested in cancer and robotics surgery and University of Iowa had a need for that skill. I also have family ties here and being a medical student here, I already knew the staff. The job I have here has been great. The University of Iowa has a very collaborative environment both within and outside the department. I’ve been able to collaborate with colleagues from Radiology, and Radiation Oncology; they are very willing to add tasks to their own already busy schedule to help you and collaborate with you. I never thought I’d come back to Iowa but I’m glad I did.

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

I would have to say my high school strength and conditioning football coach, Kevin Freking, he thought hard work and dedication were keys to attaining your goals. He was very motivating person for teenagers hungry for success. He taught me you get out what you put in. It may not be the ultimate outcome you were hoping for, but you will still gain invaluable skills and lessons.

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

Urology in general is a very technology intense field; we use lasers, robotics, radio guided therapies and biopsies. So we are very much involved in cutting edge technology. I feel the most valuable attribute I bring to medicine is my open mindedness to technology and implementation and collaboration with other fields. Medicine in general is resistant to change, so anytime you implement a new technology and it requires people to learn a new skill it can slow down the rest of their work and they’re already having a high velocity day and now must take time to learn something new. Another skill set that has been useful to me is the ability to bring the right folks together and to get them talking. I’ve been working with Dr. Chad Tracy and we recently won the Clinical Innovations Award through the University of Iowa Physicians (UIP). Chad was one of my mentors when I was a medical student. It’s been incredible to work with him as a new staff member.

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

Choose a field that you feel passionate about because you’ll be doing it 50 - 80 hours a week. Do something that you find interesting and with a patient population you enjoy working with. But remember to maintain a good work/life balance as well.

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’m a member of the Society of Urological Oncologists. I recently gave a talk in Colorado at a conference regarding bladder cancer. I peer review journal publications for the Journal of Urology.

What are some of your outside interests?

Traveling, hiking, cycling and just being outdoors.