Medical College like family for honored alumna
Victoria Vollrath, MD ’77, GME ’80, gained insight into the quality of her medical education early on in her internship, when she encountered a patient in congestive heart failure in the emergency department. She knew exactly what needed to be done, while another resident (educated elsewhere) had a detailed understanding of the chemical pathways involved in the available drugs choices but lacked the practical knowledge to make a sound decision in the case.
“I really care about the Medical College of Wisconsin,” Dr. Vollrath said. “I think its emphasis on patient care and on people is what really sets it apart from other medical schools I’ve had contact with over the years.”
The Medical College’s focus on clinical experience in education is a trait she continues to notice today and one of the reasons she has remained deeply involved with her alma mater. For her contributions to the school and the Medical College of Wisconsin/Marquette Medical Alumni Association, she received the 2012 alumni Distinguished Service Award.
A family physician who practiced in Madison and Waukesha before retiring in 2000, Dr. Vollrath found philanthropy to be a gratifying way to support the College. She joined its largest giving society—the Walter Zeit Fellowship—in 1985, and in 1993, she accepted a role on the fellowship’s Executive Committee.
“I became a Zeit Fellow because my education at the Medical College of Wisconsin allowed me to practice medicine and live the life I have. Without it, I wouldn’t have been a doctor,” she said.
Her work on the committee presented many new opportunities that Dr. Vollrath viewed as chances to help those in and entering the profession. She served two terms on the Alumni Association board from 1997-2003. She is a perennial member of reunion committees for her class (she says she loves attending the meetings so she can visit with classmates) and participant in alumni dinners near her Madison-area home.
She has given considerable attention to addressing student debt. Her parents, who created a fund to award sizeable scholarships to Sheboygan County high school students, instilled in her the importance of supporting education. Dr. Vollrath has been a strong contributor to the Class of 1977 Endowed Scholarship Fund at the Medical College. She also found a mentor in the late Kathryn Bemmann, MD ’56, an alumna who was a support system for many women medical students and was the driving force behind the Medical College’s Women’s Student Loan Fund, for which Dr. Vollrath served on the steering committee.
When Dr. Victoria Vollrath’s son Christopher graduated from the Medical College in 2011, her whole family celebrated. Pictured L-R are husband Steve Schumacher, sons Mike Schumacher, Christopher “Chip” Schumacher and Rob Schumacher, and Dr. Vollrath.
Recently, Dr. Vollrath merged a tribute to family medicine with a tribute to a family member. Her passion for primary care had inspired her parents to establish an award at the Medical College in her name that is given to a graduating senior entering family medicine. Then, when her son, Christopher Vollrath Schumacher, MD ’11, graduated from the College last year, Dr. Vollrath provided a donation that made “Chip” a Zeit Fellow and renamed the award the Victoria A. Vollrath, MD and Christopher Vollrath Schumacher, MD Award in Family Medicine.
“I think primary care is really important, especially the idea of health of the whole family, not just physical but emotional health as well,” she said. “Family practice is a very low-paying specialty, so I thought anything we could do to help people in family medicine would be worthwhile.”
Dr. Vollrath’s many ties to the Medical College also include its Parent’s Fund, Legacy Society and Women in Science program. Formerly an assistant clinical professor at the College, she also volunteers at the Saturday Clinic for the Uninsured, a partnership between the College and Columbia St. Mary’s.
She supports environmental health as a board member of the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters. She is President-elect of Friends of the Library of Elkhart Lake. In addition to Chip, she and husband Steve Schumacher have two more sons, Mike and Rob.
Victoria Vollrath, MD ’77, GME ’80, is pictured with outgoing Alumni Association President John T. Bjork, MD ’71, Fel ’76, on May 4, the night she received the 2012 Alumni Distinguished Service Award.
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