National neurosurgery advocate featured during upcoming MNNS Annual Meeting

Ann Stroink, MD, Chair of the Joint Washington Committee for Neurological Surgery

Neurosurgeons, neurosurgery residents and fellows throughout Minnesota are invited to attend the annual meeting of the Minnesota Neurosurgical Society, Saturday, April 27, at the historic St. Paul Hotel in downtown St. Paul, MN. The meeting’s esteemed speaker is Ann Stroink, MD, who will discuss her role as Chair of the Joint Washington Committee for Neurological Surgery.

Featured in a December 2017 Neurosurgery Blog post, the authors wrote that Stroink assumed her role as chair of the AANS/CNS Washington Committee in 2018, after serving as chair of CSNS. She had been a voting member of the Washington Committee for seven years, which further involved her in neurosurgery’s legislative issues and advocacy projects. In addition, she “served on organized neurosurgery’s American Medical Association (AMA) delegation, collaborating with other medical profession specialties to advance the practice of medicine and preserve patient access to high-quality care,” the post noted.

As a private practitioner in Bloomington, IL, for most of her neurosurgical career, Stroink has been involved in improving the practice of neurosurgery from the start. One of the more obvious ways was serving as a pioneering role model. “There weren’t a lot of women in pre-med back then,” Provost and Professor Emeritus Wendell Hess said in a 2005 Illinois Wesleyan University Magazine article about Stroink, who completed her undergraduate studies there, “but I knew soon that Ann was going to do it. She was bright, motivated, disciplined. Maturity-wise, she was one to three years ahead of most of the other women — and all of the men.”

Stroink completed medical school at Southern Illinois University, and was the first woman to enter the neurosurgery residency program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. “Neurosurgical training in the U.S. is very competitive and grueling,” according to the same article. “As the first and only woman in Mayo’s neurosurgery program during her residency, Stroink was determined to work circles around her male colleagues, and succeeded.”

“We want to have strong women neurosurgeons and, in my mind, she’s the strongest there is,” said U of M neurosurgeon and long-time Stroink acquaintance, Andrew Grande, MD. “She is one of the best role models we have for women neurosurgeons.”

It's tough to serve as an effective role model if there are no local educational opportunities for rising neurosurgeons, regardless of gender. To fill that gap, Stroink helped found the Bloomington-based Central Illinois Neuroscience Foundation in 1996. “She saw a need to bring a neurosurgery residency program to Central Illinois to help alleviate the burgeoning needs for neurosurgical patient care and also to provide an educational resource to health providers, the community and medical students and residents,” according to the Illinois Wesleyan University Magazine article.

Grande added that Stroink heads the Neuroscience Service Line Quality Program in her hospital system. “As a leader, she’s organized, efficient, and uses help well,” he said. “She’s good at conveying to people what she wants done, then empowering them to do it while holding them accountable for the results.”

At home in rural Bloomington with her husband, Gary Shultz, Stroink raises livestock and show dogs in her "spare" time. They are the parents of five adult children.

The Neurosurgery Blog Post.

Illinois Wesleyan University Magazine article.

For more information about the MNNS meeting, email Nicole Falk at falkx188@umn.edu or call her at 612-626-5767.

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