Kelly McQueen, M.D.'91
“I grew up with what I call wanderer parents,” said Kelly McQueen, M.D., a medical alum from the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine Class of 1991. McQueen is the Ralph M. Waters Distinguished Chair in Anesthesiology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and a leader in global anesthesia and surgery communities. McQueen said her parents “traveled a lot and exposed us early on to the needs of people around the world. It greatly informed my decision to go to medical school.”
No global health program existed at UVM when McQueen arrived in 1987, but she articulated her interest widely. Her pediatrics professor and mentor, the late Jerold Lucey, M.D., answered the call.
“Jerry sent me to a Catholic mission in San José de Ocoa, Dominican Republic,” recalls McQueen. “I think he saw me as a conduit of help for the priest and the five nuns and saw them as a conduit of experience for me. The priest, Father Lou, wasn’t a doctor but we’d pack the pickup and go up to the compos in the hills—the very poorest areas—and give vaccinations and plant trees. When I got back, Jerry said, ‘Okay, well, did you get that out of your system?’ and I said, ‘This is what I'm going to do with my life."
True to her word, McQueen’s medical career has been a hybrid of U.S.-based academic medicine and global health—primarily in sub-Saharan Africa, where her contributions have evolved from patient care to building infrastructure and expertise among village clinicians and caregivers to research on global anesthesia, unmet surgical needs, and workforce crises in low-income countries. Her findings have led to the establishment of best-practice standards for anesthesia delivery in humanitarian settings worldwide.
In 2016, the Larner College of Medicine Alumni Association recognized her with its Service to Medicine and Community Award. “Receiving that award was deeply meaningful,” says McQueen. “I still feel inspired by and connected to the UVM community, even though I no longer live there.”
McQueen recently established the Kelly McQueen, M.D.’91, Endowment for Global Health Education to support international clinical rotations for Larner medical students and the Global Health Program curriculum.
“I want to encourage interested students to explore global health as a potential career path and provide resources that will allow them to focus on the needs of the people they are serving rather than on how they’re going to manage financially. Global health work has for me been life-changing.”
To learn more about enhancing medical students’ world impact through philanthropy, contact the Larner Development and Alumni Relations Office or visit the Larner College of Medicine giving page.