Sharon Dobie

dobie headshotSharon Dobie

Position: Teaching and Practicing Family Medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine

Field: Medicine

Graduated: 1969

If I am anything, I am a generalist. I chose Mary Washington to be at a small school and my interest was the social sciences, specifically (at that time) civil rights. By early in my second year, it was clear to me that Sociology was too narrow for me. Joel Bernstein was a professor in the Art History Department and I was taking his Art History Survey course. One night his wife and he had me over for dinner and he started talking about American Studies (where he had done his graduate work). I knew it was right for me. He, with the support of a few of us, got the major approved and seven of us jumped right in.

Who wouldn’t? We got to take upper level seminars in 5 areas: American Literature, American History, The Social Sciences in America, American Art and Architecture, and non-American. It was the ticket that I needed and I never looked back!

American Studies to medicine? Well to me it was a path, not a leap. I knew I cared about equity, social justice, and advocacy. From Mary Washington, I went to the University of California, Berkeley, to study city planning, with a focus on social policy. I think I thought I would be doing community organizing and advocacy, and while I did work on a successful landmark housing discrimination case and in education and manpower planning, I realized I was not satisfied.

So I took a step back. See, in my generation of girls becoming women, I don’t think we were encouraged to think broadly that we could be and do anything. It seemed the main paths were teacher, nurse, office worker. Each of these has huge value, but I never considered other options, so I went to college and then grad school. With the step back, I thought about me, my desire to deliver direct service, my love of science (that I so carefully avoided in college), and my personality. Medicine and Art fell out of the sky as possibilities.

Deciding to try out the medicine idea, I went back to Berkeley to do premed work, I then went to the University of California San Francisco for medical school. There really never were any competitors for specialty. Like I said, I am a generalist: so Family Medicine it was. I always figured it was the most cost effective specialty for caring for the underserved. And in this field, I practice full spectrum, including obstetrics, pediatrics, behavioral health, internal medicine. Ah generalism! I teach medical students, develop and run programs to nurture students’ commitment to caring for the underserved and to work towards health equity at the University of Washington School of Medicine. I have done policy relevant health services research and I have a huge interest in the medical humanities and Relationship Centered Care. My first book length project is just being released: Heart Murmurs-What Patients Teach their Doctors.

I live in Seattle, have two grown sons, an aging dog, and a social network all over the country. To this day, I am so grateful for my MWC education and to my friendship with Joel Bernstein who created the major and who mentored me to believe in myself.