Women in Medicine: Kathryn Stolp
Monday, September 24, 2018
Posted by: AAP Staff
Kathryn Stolp, MD, MS is Chair Emeritus and an Associate Professor at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and former Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education. Throughout her career, Kate has authored and co-authored numerous original research publications and book chapters, given national presentations, and received many awards. She is Past President of the AAP and AANEM, and has been an AAP member since 1989. Learn more about her career – in her words!
My interest in neurological disorders and medicine began at an early age. My Dad was a dentist and introduced me to famous women in medicine. It is truly part of what inspired me: I was really moved by movies such as Pollyanna and Heidi, where there was an injured or diseased “paralyzed” young girl who learns to walk again. I did a report on cells in 4th grade and used a nerve cell on the cover because they are certainly the most interesting to look at! I did my term paper in high school on polio and tutored children with developmental disabilities. I wanted to help people – to make a difference in their lives. When I heard about PM&R, I realized that it was the most practical specialty that really changed people’s lives. I liked the holistic approach to care and its origin in polio and war injuries (my Dad was also a WWII veteran).
Over the years, my favorite experience was being associate dean for graduate medical education in the Mayo School of Graduate Medical Education. I am proud of being the first woman in the country to do a fellowship in EMG and Neuromuscular Disease, of being the first female department chair at Mayo Clinic, and my roles as president of the AAP and the AANEM. Mostly, I have been proud to serve our specialty and care for our patients. The AAP helped me along the way by connecting me with important information about education and research that assisted my academic needs, many new ideas, the finest academicians in our specialty, and organizations such as the AAMC. I also learned more about the political climate and advocacy for our specialty. The AAP really feels like my academic “home” and “family” and I have been proud to be a part of it and contribute (at least a little) to the AAP’s success!
As a woman in medicine, the barriers I faced seem more obvious in retrospect. There are so many ways people are different from each other, so how was I to know? Was I too short, blonde, from Wisconsin, interested in PM&R, or female? It seemed too complex to figure out and I didn’t want to make it a problem I carried with me, so I tended to avoid looking for it. All of my mentors during my career were men. However, there were a few #MeToo moments that I DID notice when they occurred. I should have recognized earlier and elevated them to a more conscious level.
For women entering the specialty of PM&R, I advise you to make choices that open doors and are not dead ends. PM&R is so versatile with many different subspecialty options that allow different lifestyle choices and career choices. Our care is really a philosophy of care that looks more globally at a patient’s situation, their life, their family, their participation in society and helping them with their condition within that context.