Olga Jonasson Communitysdrake72021-03-04T09:10:01-06:00
Olga Jonasson Community
Physician House Advising Faculty
Dr. Gillian Eastman
Dr. Gillian Eastman has been an Assistant Professor of Clinical Family Medicine since 2018. She completed medical school at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston and then came to Chicago for postgraduate training at UIC Family Medicine. Her clinical interests include integrative medicine, maternity and women’s health, wellness and preventative medicine, and chronic disease management. However, some of the more rewarding parts of her job are teaching medical students and residents and helping them navigate their own unique path forward in medicine. When not working, Gillian likes to spend time with her two kids (Ben, 6 and Charlie, 3) and in her garden.
Dr. Patrice Frederick
Dr. Patrice Frederick specializes in advanced laparoscopic and robotic general surgery. She received her Bachelor of Science from Oral Roberts University and then her Doctor of Medicine from the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria Campus. She then pursued general surgery residency at the University of Illinois Metropolitan Group Hospitals. Committed to continued professional development, Dr. Frederick completed her fellowship training in advanced laparoscopy in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Surgery. Dr. Frederick is married and is a mother of two boys, ages 5 and 6.
Olga Jonasson, MD (1934-2006)
Dr. Olga Jonasson was born in Peoria, Illinois to parents of Swedish immigrants. As a youngster, Jonasson was influenced by witnessing the work of her mother, a nurse, and her father, a pastor, in caring for the sick. She completed her bachelor’s degree in 1956 at Northwestern, and her medical degree at University of Illinois in 1958. When Jonasson decided to apply for a surgical residency, there were very few women practicing in this area. She completed residency in 1964, followed by three fellowships, one of which was at Massachusetts General Hospital in transplantation immunobiology. She joined the faculty of University of Illinois in 1967, where she developed the Division of Transplantation.Throughout her career, she served as a mentor and role-model for young female surgeons. In 1993, she became the Medical Director of the Education and Surgical Services Department of the American College of Surgeons, the first female surgeon to do so.
1968- Dr. Jonasson performed the first kidney transplant in Illinois
1976- Dr. Jonasson was named the first woman to serve on the American College of Surgery Board of Regents
1977- Dr. Jonasson was named the new Chief of Surgery at Cook County Hospital
1983- Dr. Jonasson chaired the national task force that issued a White Paper which provided broad guidelines for implementation of the newly passed National Organ Transplant Act
2006- The Association of Women Surgeons renamed their Distinguished Member Award the Olga Jonasson Distinguished Member Award
Dr. Jonasson Biography
Olga Jonasson was born August 12, 1934 in Peoria, Illinois to Swedish immigrants, Olav and Swea Jonasson. When she was 12, her family migrated to Chicago, where Olav took up the pastorship of Ebenezer Lutheran Church in the Andersonville neighborhood (Husser). The church was center of faith and culture for the Swedish community (Ebenezer Lutheran Church, “Who we are”). As a youngster, Jonasson was influenced by witnessing both of her parents’ work in caring for the sick. She went with her father on visits to shut-in parishioners and she accompanied her mother, a nurse, to the hospital. Jonasson watched and recounted what she had learned:
My mother’s nursing career was of great interest to me as a child, and when my clergyman father made hospital visits, I came along and loved sitting in the lobby watching what was happening. My decision to become a physician seemed to be a natural evolution of these interests and I do not remember having other aspirations. The act of actually intervening in someone’s suffering was a prime motivation, and the active nature of surgery was particularly interesting and involving. (Changing Face of Medicine)
Jonasson’s early self-reliance was apparent when she stayed back in Chicago to study at Northwestern University at the age of 16, while her family moved to on to Connecticut. She attended Northwestern University from 1951 to 1954 and then entered the University of Illinois. She completed her bachelor’s degree in 1956. Jonasson finished her medical degree with honors in 1958 at the University of Illinois, and went on to complete her internship at UI’s hospital. While attending medical school, the energetic Jonasson worked at the North Shore lab where she performed analysis of blood and urine. She was also elected to the distinguished Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society. When Jonasson decided to apply for a surgical residency, there were very few women practicing in this area. She faced many doubts among her faculty, but through great persistence was eventually able to persuade Dr. Warren Cole that her aim was not ‘preposterous’ and he accepted her into the surgical residency program at the University of Illinois Research and Education Hospital (Ennis). Thus, Dr. Jonasson began an extraordinary career as a woman in surgery and cut a groundbreaking path for those who would follow.
Jonasson graduated her residency program in 1964. Her first fellowship in immunochemistry at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, was followed by another fellowship at the Massachusetts General Hospital of the Harvard Medical School in transplantation immunobiology, and a third fellowship in cardiovascular and thoracic surgery was completed in Chicago (Ennis).
In 1966, Dr. Jonasson became the 37th woman to receive certification from the American Board of Surgery among over 14,000 men (Batholomew). She worked as a cardiovascular surgeon at Rush Presbyterian Hospital until she resigned to accept a position at the University of Illinois Hospital in 1967 (Ennis). She developed the division of transplantation at the University of Illinois Hospital in 1968, and performed the first kidney transplant in Illinois the same year. In 1969, the National Institutes of Health funded Jonasson’s investigation of kidney tissue typing for transplant recipients. Her pioneering work resulted in the establishment of a tissue typing laboratory for 6 transplantation centers in Chicago (Husser).
Dr. Jonasson’s career was studded with many firsts as she pioneered the way for women surgeons. In 1976, Jonasson was named the first woman to serve on the American College of Surgery Board of Regents, and in 1977, she achieved another first for a woman as the new Chief of Surgery at Cook County Hospital (Ennis). When Jonasson left Cook County Hospital in 1987 to take up the mantle of Chair of Surgery at Ohio State University and became the Robert M. Zollinger Professor of Surgery, she was the first female in a coeducational school in the United States to achieve this rank. In 1993, she left Ohio State University and returned to Chicago where she became the Medical Director of the Education and Surgical Services Department of the American College of Surgeon (Husser). According to the American College of Surgeons “She was the first female surgeon to hold a high-level staff position within the College’s Executive Staff” (“Olga Jonasson, MD, FACS, 1934-2006”).
As the Director of Education and Surgical Services at the American College of Surgeons from 1993 to 2004, Jonasson was engaged in setting the field’s agenda for research and the forward movement of numerous patient safety initiatives. She was a leader in getting funding for the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program and advancing studies to investigate the working conditions of residents. These conditions impacted patient outcomes. More than $13 million dollars of research money moved under her leadership during the period of her directorship for ACS (Husser).
Much of Jonasson’s persistent regard and honor among colleagues and trainees in her field arises from the work she put into mentoring and teaching others, including medical students, residents, and faculty. Husser describes Jonasson’s profound professional generativity:
She was tireless in her deliberate actions to ensure the success of her protege´s. She was very secure in her own accomplishments, which allowed her to enjoy great personal satisfaction in the success of those fortunate enough to have worked with her. Whether it was editing manuscripts, assisting in writing grants, saving a place in line at the microphone at national meetings, her efforts were unending in enabling and encouraging younger surgeons. In honor and memory of her unwavering efforts, especially for young women surgeons, the Association of Women Surgeons has renamed their Distinguished Member Award the Olga Jonasson Distinguished Member Award. (Husser)
Jonasson was made an honorary member of the American College of Black Academic Surgeons based on her “outstanding mentorship of minority surgeons,” and she received multiple Golden Apple Awards for her “lively and rigorous student/resident teaching” reflecting her commitment to excellence (Bartholomew). Of note, was Dr. Jonasson’s dinner for trainees:
The Chief’s club, a three-decade-long monthly tradition of dinner for chief residents held in her home, was prized (and feared) for the after dinner Socratic ‘grilling’ by an invited expert. She opened her heart and her home to furnish newly emerging surgeons with the art and critical thinking needed in excellent surgical practice. (Bartholomew)
After Jonasson’s passing, many reflected on her as a teacher and mentor. Jeremy Pearce, reporting for the New York Times, spoke with Dr. Truman Anderson about Jonasson’s gifts as a teacher. Anderson, a former dean at the Illinois medical school, memorialized her “remarkable skills as a surgeon” and her facility in teaching residents and surgeons in training: “[She] proved that in teaching students setting an example is more than important — it is the only thing” (Pearce).
In addition to her mentoring work, Dr. Jonasson contributed in the challenging arena of national policy development, which was fraught with strife and contest. In 1983, the National Organ Transplant Act was passed and Jonasson was took up the role of Chairperson for the group charged with setting forward the details of the enactment and enforcement policies for the new law. Bartholomew writes:
As a policy instrument, she was the lightning rod to which wildly disparate points of view, ugly protests and bitter criticisms of the law itself were directed. She presided over her task force with dignity and always with intelligence and ﬁrmness. Olga could not be swayed by false arguments. She had an uncanny ability to identify people who were lying or were out for personal gain. After it was all over, many people took credit for the resulting American transplant system that quickly became an object of national pride, and a world-wide standard. The one individual who never claimed any kind of personal credit was Olga Jonasson. Yet, we all knew that nothing could have been accomplished without the presence of this magniﬁcent leader. (Bartholomew)
Dr. Jonasson was honored for her service may times. In 1996, Jonasson was honored by the University Alumni Association for her long history of achievements (Husser). She was an honorary fellow of England’s Royal College of Surgeons, a Markle Scholar in Academic Medicine, and recipient of the Elizabeth Blackwell Award of the American Medical Women’s Association. She worked in her specialty area to advance standards with the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Dr. Jonasson was on the editorial boards for the Annals of Surgery and the Journal of the American College of Surgeons as well as a frequent reviewer for the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New EnglandJournal of Medicine. (Changing Face of Medicine).
On August 30th, 2006, Dr. Olga Jonasson died at Northwestern Memorial Hospital of T-cell lymphoma. She was 72 years old. In 2007, the American College of Surgeons established the Olga M. Jonasson Lecture in her honor.
Bartholomew, A., Ascher, N., & Starzl, T. (2007). TRIBUTE: Dr. Olga Jonasson Born in Peoria, Illinois, August 12, 1934 Died in Chicago, Illinois, August 30, 2006. American Journal of Transplantation, 7(8), 1882-1883. Accessed May 2020 at: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1600-6143.2007.01872.x