She cites Robert Murden, MD, among
the faculty members in the Office of
Geriatrics and Gerontology who helped
her develop her clinical skills. Bonnie
Kantor-Burman, ScD, was director of
the Ohio State Office of Geriatrics and
Gerontology at the time and was also an
important mentor in academic medicine.
Dr. Unroe went on to do her geriatric
fellowship at Duke University and the
Veterans Administration Medical Center
in Durham, North Carolina.
Among her many leadership roles is
project director for a national Centers
for Medicare and Medicaid Services-funded project, OPTIMISTIC (Phase 2),
to help test and design new payment
mechanisms to support on-site acute
care in nursing homes.
“There’s the demographic imperative
of our aging population,” Dr. Unroe
says, “and while many people are aging
without disability, others who have
conditions such as dementia will need
supportive services.” Unfortunately, she
says, “We’re not set up as a society to
deal with that. But the opportunities
are tremendous, and geriatricians are
working with other disciplines to be a
part of these vital changes.”
She advises medical students to seek
out mentors, “people who have careers
similar to what you want, and then
pursue opportunities to understand
what it’s really like.”
ALUMNI SERVICE AWARD
Phyllis Stephenson, MD ’64
about it, Phyllis
’64, can claim
many “firsts” in
For one, she
easily recalls how
she first chose
medicine. It was
vocation day at St. Mary High School
in Columbus, Ohio. She remembers a
teacher told her she couldn’t go into
medicine. “Before that, I had no idea I
would go into medicine until someone
told me I couldn’t do it.
“We young women were supposed to
be nurses, teachers and secretaries,”
The teacher’s response prompted Dr.
Stephenson, a Columbus native, and
three of her female high school friends
to decide they were going to be doctors.
She and her friends were accepted at
Ohio State and majored in pre-med.
When she started medical school at Ohio
State in 1960, Dr. Stephenson was one of
only seven women in her class of 150.
“Today, women make up 54 percent of
medical school students,” she says.
Dr. Stephenson went on to train in
internal medicine in the Cornell Medical
Division of Bellevue Hospital and did
a clinical oncology fellowship at the
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer
Center in New York in 1967, followed
by two additional years of conducting
She started her practice in Sarasota,
Florida, in 1968 and was the first
oncologist north of Miami at the time.
“Medical oncology didn’t become a
specialty until 1975,” she points out.
Throughout her career, Dr. Stephenson
has made service a constant, staying
connected with the Ohio State College
of Medicine alumni community and
serving on the Board of Governors
(2008-2014) of the Medical Alumni
Society, commitments that meant
frequent travel between Sarasota and
Columbus. In the early 1980s during
one of her visits, Dr. Stephenson met
with the respected cancer surgeon
Arthur G. James, MD, whom she had
known before her undergraduate days
and who had long envisioned a cancer
hospital in central Ohio. She recalls
a particularly exciting memory during
that time. “I’ll never forget when he
arranged to meet me at the first James
Cancer Hospital and Solove Research
Institute. Look at it now!”
As an alumni board member,
Stephenson helped advise new
projects to enhance the student
experience and connect alumni with
the college, students and each other.
Dr. Stephenson served as her reunion
class co-chair for multiple reunions
and most recently helped her class
of 1964 celebrate their 50th class
reunion in 2014 by encouraging class
participation and engagement with the
college. She is a passionate supporter
of the college and encourages alumni
engagement and philanthropic support
by sponsoring events, connecting with
classmates and leading by example.
A philanthropist in her Sarasota
community, Stephenson has been an
ardent advocate for cancer patients
and has served in numerous leadership
roles at the local and state level for
the American Cancer Society and the
Florida Society of Clinical Oncology,
which she founded in the late 1970s.
She started the first hospice in Sarasota
and, now retired, works at the Senior
Friendship Center, providing health care
to uninsured and homeless people. She
also oversees medical students who
work in the free clinic.
Service and medicine is a natural way
to stay connected, she says, adding, “I
will always have a deep affection for my
roots at The Ohio State University.”
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FACULTY MEMBER AND SUBMIT A
NOMINATION FOR THE 2017 ALUMNI
AWARDS BY FEBRUARY 15.
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