Dana Thompson ’91
Professor of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Division Head of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
Once a competitive teen figure skater, Dana Thompson (M.D. ’91) now uses many of those skills in a different arena: the operating room.
“A career as a surgeon always appealed to me, as it borrowed from and leveraged skills I developed as a figure skater: discipline, focus, drive and tenacity,” she says.
Thompson grew up in a family where practicing medicine was more than just a job.
“I was fortunate to be surrounded by successful physicians who simply loved what they did and served as early role models,” she says. “My father was in obstetrics and gynecology in Kansas City. My grandfather was a general practitioner in a small town in Mississippi.”
Thompson also received encouragement from three black physicians in her Kansas City, Kan., neighborhood.
“Through this network, I was able to observe my father deliver a baby and perform a hysterectomy and see the wonders of eye surgery,” Thompson says. “Most importantly, I had a group of role models who collectively demonstrated that neither race nor gender would be an obstacle to pursuing my goal of becoming a physician.”
When it came time to choose a medical school, Thompson remembered the students and faculty she had worked with while volunteering at Truman Medical Center. Now, Thompson says, she uses her UMKC education every day.
“To this day I am seeking and developing alternative clinical pathways to achieve the same, if not better, outcomes in the care of patients.”
Today, Thompson is division head of otolaryngology at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. In this role, she performs high-risk surgeries on children, removing obstructions from the larynx and windpipe.
“I found that I enjoyed the complexity of the anatomy of the head and neck region, combined with a career in helping people with the key essential functions of human life: the ability to hear, breathe, talk, communicate, eat and swallow.”