Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Jennifer Pearson
Jennifer Pearson, MD, is a family medicine physician and faculty member at the University of Minnesota Duluth campus. Dr. Pearson completed her first two years at the Duluth Medical School campus and her third and fourth years at the Twin Cities campus. “The Duluth campus was very appealing to me because I had a strong interest in family medicine,” she said. After completing her residency in Madison, Wisconsin, she began a broad-spectrum family medicine practice in McFarland, Wisconsin. After three years of practice in McFarland, she returned with her family to northern Minnesota, practicing broad-spectrum family medicine within the Hermantown Clinic.
In 2003, Dr. Pearson began teaching at the medical school. She still believed strongly in the mission of the Duluth campus to produce future family doctors to serve rural and Native communities, a greatly needed segment of the healthcare workforce. Over the next several years, her professional focus evolved, centering more on teaching. “I’ve always loved teaching, even as a resident.” She describes her teaching philosophy as aiming to “be a guide by the side” as she supports students in learning and growing into the physicians they strive to be.
Dr. Pearson has taught The Healer's Art for nearly two decades, a course initiated by Dr. Rachel Remen at the University of California San Francisco. This course cultivates the art of medicine by delving into topics such as the exploration of self, the concept of service and living with grief both personally and professionally. Recognized by the larger medical community for its value, different variations of the course are currently taught at over 100 medical schools.
Dr. Pearson has also focused on the demand for obstetrical services in remote regions by providing educational resources to family practice physicians who incorporate obstetrics into their practice. Access to obstetrical care has been strained by closures of labor and delivery units in rural areas. She shared, “We need to have physicians who can care for pregnant or laboring patients. This is an arena that I have tried to bring to the classroom and some clinical research. How do we build healthy, viable rural communities where people of reproductive age can come and have options?”
Dr. Pearson believes the Duluth Campus is a critical player in patient access to care in non-urban communities across the region and in Native communities beyond. The map of healthcare provided in these areas would not be the same without it. She shared, “I feel very fortunate to be part of the proverbial village that produces these physicians and helps to meet this need.”