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Several pictures of doctors who are featured on the Local Legends web site

MEET LOCAL LEGEND: Sharon L. Hostler, M.D.

Picture of Sharon L. Hostler
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Sharon L. Hostler, M.D.

“My patients, the kids, never fail to inspire me with their tremendous courage and determination in the face of severe disabilities. They give much more than we can give them.”


Virgil H. Goode, Jr.



Growing up an only child in Rutland, Vermont, Sharon Hostler didn't think of becoming a doctor until, at age twelve, she watched her father die of Hodgkin's disease. The family doctor who attended to her father during his travails inspired her to go into medicine, and to emulate the care and compassion he had shown to her father.

Hostler was the only woman in her graduating class at the University of Vermont School of Medicine in 1965, where a sense of humor and a steely determination to perform as well as the men had been absolute necessities for her. She prevailed, subsequently finding her passion as a physician in developmental pediatrics and children's rehabilitation, fields in which for several decades she has distinguished herself, excelling as a leader of family-centered care for sick children.

Initially reluctant about a career in pediatrics, a year spent in Puerto Rico as a fourth-year medical resident convinced her of the importance of family-centered medical treatment. Now the McLemore Birdsong Professor of Pediatrics and Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Development at the University of Virginia (UVA), Hostler joined the medical faculty in 1965 and played an important role in establishing developmental pediatrics at the university, including serving as chief of the division of developmental pediatrics and medical director of the Kluge Children's Rehabilitation Center.

Colleague Robert M. Carey, M.D. describes her early, positive impact: "At that time, the care of children was largely based on academic 'Ivory Tower,' unidirectional approaches. Sharon introduced the concept of the family's having a vital role, and contributed greatly to the recognition of developmental pediatrics as a specialty, and to the birth of adolescent medicine as a discipline.

"Her legacy is a precious culture of uncompromising professionalism and caring. Nothing can be more important," Carey emphasizes.

Nominated as a Local Legend by Rep. Virgil H. Goode, Jr. (R-VA-5), Hostler has garnered widespread praise for her pediatric initiatives. Under her leadership, the Department of Pediatrics at UVA Medical Center grew into a nationally recognized program offering comprehensive services for cerebral palsy, children's rehabilitation and adolescent development. She has more than 150 published papers and communications to her credit.

Hostler also did much to advance the position of women in medicine. In 1989, for example, she was appointed Chair of the UVA Committee on Women, charged with studying the environment for women in medical school– an early and successful effort to improve the position of women in medicine. In 1990, she received the Association of American Medical Colleges Women in Medicine Leadership Award, and in 2000 the UVA Elizabeth Zintl Award.

In further recognition of her accomplishments, in 2002, the Women's Leadership in Medicine Award was renamed the Sharon L. Hostler Women in Medicine Award in her honor.



Appointed co-director of Kluge Children's Rehabilitation Center University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, VA


Appointed Chief, Division of Developmental Pediatrics and Medical Director, Kluge Children's Rehabilitation Center, University of Virginia School of Medicine


Appointed McLemore Birdsong Professor of Pediatrics, University of Virginia School of Medicine


Women's Leadership in Medicine Award renamed the Sharon L. Hostler Women in Medicine Award in her honor


Appointed Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Development, University of Virginia School of Medicine




College of Medicine, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT



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