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Faculty Focus: Thomas Gellhaus, MD

Date: Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Thomas Gellhaus, MDWhat is your hometown?

Yankton, South Dakota

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

It all started during eighth grade science class and it never waivered.

When did you join the University of Iowa faculty?

July 2010.

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

I had been in private practice in Davenport, IA for 20 years after completing my residency at Iowa. I had been approached about joining the Iowa faculty three times over the last ten years of practice. I interviewed twice but declined the offers as I did not feel it was the right time in my life. Truthfully, I was very fearful of having to present at grand rounds. I was approached again in January 2010 and my wife said if I wanted to do this I had to interview because they probably would not ask again. I felt with 20 years of experience I had a lot to offer both medical students and residents – at least teaching them what NOT to do! I also enjoyed teaching very much and especially hands on training. I wanted to be an example to medical students and residents and be a mentor.

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

There were many, but Dr. Ted Chapler, an REI professor, during my residency and R. Frank Zlatnik, and MFM professor, were big factors in my professional life. My resident colleague and friend to this day, Dr. Michael McCoy, also had a great influence as a peer level mentor and friend.

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

I wanted to bring a “positive” and “practical” approach to education and patient care. I wanted to teach in a far different manner than occurred in my residency.

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

The incredible advancement in technology in clinical practice and surgery.

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

Nothing is written in stone. If you choose a career oath and later you find it is not right for you, you can change to one of many other areas or specialties in medicine. Do what you enjoy.

In what ways are you engaged in professional activities outside the University?

I became involved in our national ob/gyn organization, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, in 1994 and after 20 years of involvement I was elected President in 2014 and served as President of this national and international organization of over 65,000 members from 2016-2017. I remain actively involved and continue to be invited to speak throughout the U.S. and internationally.

What are some of your outside (personal) interests?

I enjoy golfing, reading, and time with my family.

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