Since 2015, Paula M. Termuhlen, MD, FACS, has served as professor of surgery at the University of Minnesota Medical School and regional dean of the Duluth campus, leading faculty and staff while supporting 130 students in their first two years of medical school. When she joined the team six years ago, she was the first female regional dean in the nearly 50-year history of the Duluth campus.

On May 1, Dr. Termuhlen will become the dean of Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine. 

“During Dr. Termulen’s tenure, our focus on training physicians for rural and Native American communities has been outstanding, and we have expanded the community presence of the Medical School and the clinical mission on the Duluth campus,” said Jakub Tolar, MD, PhD, dean of the Medical School. “I am grateful for her contributions to our Medical School.” 

“My biggest and most profound takeaway is the power of mission,” Dr. Termuhlen said. “I have so much respect for our founding faculty and leadership members who had the foresight to capture our graduates’ impact and use that to move the current missions forward. One of the most important aspects of my job has been highlighting the work in service to our rural and Native American communities.” 

Dr. Termuhlen welcomed the first Medical Discovery Team (MDT) to the Duluth campus and hired the Medical School’s first MDT leader on rural and American Indian health. During her time in Duluth, the campus has celebrated many historical milestones and accomplishments on both a local and national level. The campus was acknowledged by the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Association of American Indian Physicians in 2018 as second in the nation for graduating the largest number of Native American physicians. Following that national recognition, the campus reached a historic milestone in 2019 during its annual White Coat ceremony, welcoming the largest group of twelve incoming Native American medical students to the Class of 2023. 

“The people of Minnesota are so fortunate to have the dedicated faculty, staff and students who work and learn on the Duluth campus,” Dr. Termuhlen said. “Our success in training so many rural and family medicine physicians – 44% of our alumni practice in small communities with populations of 20,000 or less – contribute to lowering healthcare access barriers in our state.” 

“Duluth’s strengths—their relationship to the community, their service to improving rural healthcare, their commitment to ensuring better health and education for indigenous people, their ability to work locally and yet expand the vision globally, their history of collaborative basic science, and their deep sense of identity and collegiality—are necessary to this Medical School,” Dean Tolar said.

Department heads, Peter Nalin, MD, MBA, FAAFP, of Family Medicine and Biobehavioral Health, and Jean Regal, PhD, of Biomedical Sciences, have accepted interim co-leadership roles for the Duluth campus to ensure the advancement of our mission to serve rural and Native American communities and continued progress in fostering excellence in research and innovative rural family practice physicians’ training. A search for Duluth campus leadership is underway. 

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Termuhlen on her new role and thanking her for her service.