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

MEET LOCAL LEGEND: Joann Schaefer, M.D.

Picture of Joann Schaefer
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[3 min, 10 sec]
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Joann Schaefer, M.D.

“To aid in the first breath is an honor. To aid in the last is a privilege. To share in the journey is the reward of a family doctor. It is an honor and a privilege to practice medicine.”


Lee Terry


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“My topics of teaching vary,” explains Joann Schaefer, “but the emphasis on domestic violence and women's health clearly prevail in my lectures and courses. This interest stems from the loss of a close childhood friend, who was murdered by her husband when I was in medical school, at Creighton.”

Schaefer completed her undergraduate degree in Biology and Chemistry at California State University–Fullerton before attending Creighton University Medical School in a special accelerated program for Family Practice. She completed three years of medical school and three years of residency, then joined the Creighton faculty, where today she is an associate professor.

Of her medical school experience, she recalls, “Nationally there was limited attention to domestic violence, therefore education in this area was severely limited—I had five minutes on the topic, which also included elder abuse and touched on the statistics of child abuse.”

“So I aggressively increased the time spent on violence while I was a resident, teaching medical students. In addition, I became involved in key organizations in the domestic violence treatment community and began to be known as an expert in diagnosing, treating and providing resources for victims of violence. Now no medical student in Nebraska graduates without having heard my lectures on domestic violence,” says Schaefer.

Her curriculum is particularly “hands–on” and includes actual '9–1–1' tapes, forensic photographs, news clips and, at times, survivors. “The whole point,” Schaefer explains, “is to grab students' attention and use an actual clinical case to present all of the key teaching points.”

Says Representative Lee Terry [R–NE–2], who nominated Schaefer as a Local Legend, “she has truly changed the face of medicine in Nebraska.” In addition to lauding her nationally recognized efforts to curb domestic violence, Terry also praises her accomplishments as Deputy Chief Medical Officer in making Nebraska a national leader in bio–terrorism preparedness.

“She was assigned smallpox preparedness planning, both pre–event and mass vaccination post–event,” Terry recounts. “Because of her skillful planning, Nebraska was the first state to be ready to respond to President Bush's call to vaccinate public health and health care workers. In three short weeks the vaccinations were complete and we were the first to have the right people vaccinated, able to respond to a potential release of the deadly smallpox virus, and we had the highest per capita rate of vaccination.”

“Dr. Schaefer's second task was to prepare Nebraska to receive, secure, break down and dispense the Strategic National Stockpile and, because of her thoroughness, we became just the fifth state nationwide to be approved by the Centers for Disease Control to receive the Stockpile,” concludes Terry.

“Many states are now adopting our ideas,” says Schaefer of Nebraska's bio–terrorism preparedness efforts. “While I realize the very sad prospect of having to do such a task, I am proud of Nebraska and honored to be entrusted with the care of its citizens.”



Appointed instructor, Family Practice, Creighton University School of Medicine


Begins service as Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Nebraska Health and Human Services System


Becomes Associate Professor, Creighton University School of Medicine




Creighton University School of Medicine


Family Medicine

Sub Specialty

Public Health