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Dr. Diane Gail Snustad





Year of Birth / Death

b. 1952


Medical School

University of Minnesota Medical School


Geography

LOCATION
Virginia


Career Path

Internal medicine: Geriatrics
Dr. Diane Gail Snustad



Inspiration

I have always had a "missionary" side wanting to help others; especially those no one else was helping.

I never really thought of becoming a doctor until mid-way through college. I had no role models and thought that doctors were male and of an unobtainable stature. I became pre-med just to get a broad exposure to many subjects. I found I did well and realized being a doctor fit with my values and personality.



Biography

Dr. Diane Snustad says: "I give medical students and residents a role model of a human being able to balance full-time academic work, a family, a marriage, and a sense of humor." Not only does she show her students that you can "do it all," she shows them how to do it well: "They see me dealing with my patients as real people, negotiating with them to customize their care with their wishes and values." The exemplary care she gives her elderly patients and the example she sets for medical students are two of the reasons Diane Snustad was named one of the "Best Doctors in America" in both 2001 and 2002.

A native of Fargo, North Dakota, Diane Snustad attended the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis for both her undergraduate work in philosophy and for her medical studies. After receiving her doctor of medicine degree in 1979, she began a residency in internal medicine at West Virginia University. With board certification in internal medicine, Dr. Snustad spent the early years of her clinical practice in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was there working with mentors Patrick Irvine, M.D., and David Martin, M.D., that she discovered her affinity for working for and with elderly patients. Through the early 1980s, Dr. Snustad juggled teaching duties at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine along with clinical responsibilities at the general medicine and psychiatric units of the University's hospital, the Pittsburgh Veteran's Administration Hospital, Benedum Geriatric Center, and the Pittsburgh Skilled Nursing Center.

As the Claude Moore Chair of Geriatrics at the University of Virginia (UVA), Dr. Snustad now serves the Charlottesville community as medical director for both the UVA Geriatric Clinic and the Colonnades Health Care Center. Dr. Snustad's geriatric practice includes working with both the psychiatric and internal medical components of the aging process. In addition to her clinical responsibilities, Dr. Snustad has conducted research, lectured and written on osteoporosis, cognitive assessment, dementia, urinary incontinence, nutrition in the elderly, and care of rural elderly patients. She is currently researching a new leg-exercising device to determine if its use could help reduce hypertension. After coming to Charlottesville in 1986 as assistant professor, Dr. Snustad notes that one of her accomplishments at UVA was being the first woman in the department of internal medicine to take maternity leave. She is married to Paul Humphreys, Ph.D., and the couple have two daughters.

At the University of Virginia, Dr. Snustad has trained close to a dozen geriatric fellows and taught all six of the university's "Mini-Med Schools." A fellow of the American College of Physicians, Dr. Snustad is also a member and reviewer for the American Geriatrics Society and the Gerontological Society of America.



Question and Answer

What was my biggest obstacle?

No significant obstacles other than natural shyness and a feeling I didn't really belong to this elevated group.

How do I make a difference?

I give medical students and residents a role model of a human being able to balance full-time academic work, a family, a marriage, and a sense of humor. They see me dealing with my patients as real people, negotiating with them to customize their care with their wishes and values.

Who was my mentor?

I didn't have one until mid-way through medical school—and never had a woman mentor. My mentors in geriatrics were Patrick Irvine, MD and David Martin, MD.

How has my career evolved over time?

I have gradually come to settle into a job that I feel is ideal for me—practicing primary care and consultative geriatrics in an academic center, and teaching medical students, residents and fellows. My practice is successful and I have a considerable degree of autonomy. I do not feel any significant academic or financial pressures which, I realize, is very unusual.



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