“Bon Voyage” to Janet Schlechte

As a postscript to the combined graduation event, leadership within the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism privately commissioned a recognition for Janet Schlechte, MD, who had recently announced her retirement, to be revealed at the end of the evening. Schlechte has long served the University of Iowa after her own training in residency and fellowship here. She directed the Department of Internal Medicine’s postgraduate programs for sixteen years and even the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism itself as interim director for two years. In those years she held many other titles and received many recognitions of excellence, including the Ernest O. Theilen Clinical Teaching and Service Award and the College of Medicine’s Faculty Service Award.

Schlechte’s leadership and longevity within the department and division made her a natural partner as clinical director for the division alongside E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD, when he arrived to direct the division and the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center. In 2016, after Abel also assumed the role of chair and DEO of the Department of Internal Medicine and even after the division’s current director, Ayotunde Dokun, MD, PhD, succeeded him, Schlechte’s wisdom continued to sustain the clinical operations of endocrinology at University of Iowa Health Care.

All of those individuals and more were on hand virtually that evening to give Schlechte a proper farewell. A video with a series of interviews and photographs from over the years played. Endocrinology Fellowship Director Amal Shibli-Rahhal, MD, MS, then took the podium to offer a few more words of gratitude and to present Schlechte with a framed photo of the hospital’s iconic Boyd Tower. During her own brief response, Schlechte said that she had always been told that it was an ill-considered career move to continue to work at the institution where you trained, to not explore other opportunities. But, she said, looking back over her career at Iowa, she said that she did not have a single regret, believing her time was well spent at such a fine place and with such fine people.

The below video contains remarks from (in order of appearance):
Ayotunde Dokun, MD, PhD
E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD
Peggy O’Neill, MSN, RN
William Sivitz, MD
Peggy Scott
Elizabeth Bowen, MD
Laura Deines
Julie Schommer, DO
Abbey Gilpin
Melissa Collier, RN
Jeremy Greenlee, MD
Katie Robinson, MD, PhD
Yumi Imai, MD
Lisa Morselli, MD, PhD
Adeyinka Taiwo, MD
Amal Shibli-Rahhal, MD, MS

A week or so after that evening, Schlechte’s final “final day” arrived, and a few members of the division gathered over cupcakes to wish her one more goodbye. Many, while sharing their favorite memories, expressed their disbelief that she would not be returning to work at some point, but it was unclear how much of that was driven by their deep affection for her and their unwillingness to let go, to not continue to see her every day. Though Schlechte maintained she was definitely going to give not working a real chance.

No matter which camp will turn out to be correct, the impact Janet Schlechte has had on the division and the department will last for a very long time. Congratulations and best wishes to someone who is among just a handful of department members with few peers in impact on medical education and clinical care at this institution.

1 Response

  1. Friederike

    I truly hate to see you leave. You used to come to my little residency program in Waterloo, IA where you taught a group of eager Family Medicine residents the basics of endocrinology. Your lectures were always a highlight for residents and Fam Med faculty.

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