"Interacting with medical students, residents and colleagues, is stimulating and life enriching. I am most lucky to have had these relationships."
-- Fran Storrs, MD
The Dermatology Foundation has presented Frances Storrs, MD, Professor Emeritus, Department of Dermatology, with the 2011 Lifetime Career Educator Award. The award honors academic dermatologists who have been inspirational teachers and mentors to many generations of medical students and residents.
"This sort of honor is humbling in that it is truly difficult to feel worthy," said Dr. Storrs. "I have, indeed, thoroughly enjoyed the part of my working life involved in education. Interacting with medical students, residents and colleagues, is stimulating and life enriching. I am most lucky to have had these relationships."
"Dr. Storrs was the first woman to complete a residency in the medical school's dermatology department and is a path-breaking physician, researcher and mentor. Her skills in the classroom have earned her many teaching and service awards. She is known nationally and internationally for her work in contact dermatitis and discovering new workplace allergens. She has received virtually every honor her specialty can bestow, among them the Gold Medal of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), its highest award, as well as its Master in Dermatology Award. She won the Rose Hirschler Award of the Women's Dermatologic Society.
Dermatology Foundation Honors the Specialty’s Finest
Dr. Storrs, Professor Emerita of Dermatology at Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU), is a Local Legend of Medicine in the National Library of Medicine. OHSU formally recognized her as "an impassioned mentor" who has "distinguished herself through her unwavering commitment to and passion for the education of young people. As an educator and mentor she's touched so many people, including those just starting out and those already on their career path. She loves this work—and it shows."
Teaching and mentoring during her 43 years on the faculty were a joyful and energizing passion. "I became deeply involved with the residents and with teaching medical students," Dr. Storrs told the Dermatology Foundation. "I set up many courses for them and lectured on dermatology. I just loved it!"
In recognition of her impact, Dr. Storrs received numerous teaching awards and honors from students over the years. Dr. Storrs knew first hand the value of good mentorship and provided it for others through her Contact and Occupational Dermatitis Clinic.
"I always hired a research assistant—always someone who wanted to go to medical school. I wanted to assist them, and I particularly hoped to excite women about dermatology." When Dr. Storrs had entered medical school in 1960, "it was a different time for women in medicine," she points out. She was one of only seven women in her class at Cornell Medical College, the first woman to complete the dermatology residency program at OHSU, then remained their sole female faculty member for 21 years. In 1993, Dr. Storrs worked with June Robinson to found the Mentorship Awards Program in the Women's Dermatologic Society.
Virtually all of Dr. Storrs' mentees entered medicine, many in dermatology. One gratefully notes that "Fran, more than any other physician or teacher, has empowered me to do things I never thought possible."
Dr. Storrs, a sought-after speaker in contact dermatitis, has played a major role in advancing the field through her focus on new allergens and testing the validity of accepted concepts.
Her many awards include the AAD's Master Dermatologist Award, the AAD's Gold Medal (their highest award), and the WDS's first Mentorship Award. At OHSU, an annual endowed dermatology lectureship in her name is intended to become a named professorship.
In retirement, Dr. Storrs still wouldn't miss the department's Wednesday morphology conference and scheduled talks. "It's too interesting and so much fun to inhale all this fascinating information. I feel so lucky that I was able to become a dermatologist!"
Pictured: Richard L. Edelson, M.D., Dermatology Foundation President, and Fran Storrs, MD
This article was reprinted with permission from the Dermatology Foundation. It was previoulsy published in the quarterly, Dermatology Focus.