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Transcript: "Dr. Joanne Schaefer"


Dr. Schaefer: I'm Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the state of Nebraska's Health and Human Services System. One of the biggest things that I've done and probably the most proud of that I am is that there are no graduating medical students in the state of Nebraska that get out without my lecture on domestic violence.

When I went to medical school I got five minutes of education on domestic violence. Now at my medical school they get sixteen hours.

Sarah Murphy, Medical Student: Dr. Schaefer has taught me that if I spend an extra couple of minutes with a patient learning about what's going on in their life outside of a medical problem then I can treat them better and treat them more as a whole patient.

Dr. Schaefer: It's such an honor to be a physician. When you sit back and you think of the very personal and intimate details patients tell you, and you keep to your grave. I mean these are things they don't tell their spouses. They don't tell anyone.

Susan Michalsky, Patient: She understands the aftermath. She understands the long-term healing process. She understands that it's not-there's no quick fix to this. The physical stuff healed. I could see that healing and so could anybody else. But it was the emotional stuff, that kind of pain that really gets to the core of who someone is as a human being.

Dr. Schaefer: Eleven years ago my life took a huge change when my dearest friend in the world was murdered by her husband in front of her children. He then killed himself. She had a two and a three year old and a four month old at the time. And I was very oblivious to the life that she was living.

When I had to deal with the death of her it was devastating, and then ironically I had just had my five minutes of education in medical school about it or near that time and I thought - wow. She had a lot of intervene-she had a lot of times when she could have talked to medical providers.

I'm just the type of person who can't sit back and say this is just awful and horrible and let it be that and hurt forever. It was a way of dealing with my own grief. I turned it into a positive, and I'm very proud of that. I'm proud because I know she's proud. And I'm proud because I know her kids are.

Getting recognition like this for telling her story is-is thrilling and also sad in the same breath. But I know she would be thrilled. I know she is and her kids are very proud. So that's a good thing.

I can't even imagine what it would have been like to be a physician fifty years ago trying to do this. So I just am thankful for the women who have paved the way ahead of me, and I hope one of the things to do in return is to continue to be a mentor to the younger female physicians out there.

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