Who Demoted Me?

Have you ever met someone who is truly empowered?

Someone who is 100% comfortable in their own skin, in their own abilities, someone who does not care what other people think of them?

My friend, the late Dr. Linnea Hauge, PhD, was one of those people.

Linnea was married to Tom Barber, a lifelong friend of mine I met when I was an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin.

Let me share a true story with you about Dr. Linnea Hague, PhD. 

Linnea received her PhD in Exercise Science.  She was an educator who taught at several universities across the country conducting research on how the human body reacts in various stressful situations.

She was hired as an education specialist in the Department of Surgery at Rush Medical College and Rush University Medical Center Hospital, which is located in Chicago, a few miles west of downtown.

Linnea was hired to teach experienced doctors and surgeons in the Department of Surgery how to be better, more effective teachers and mentors to new medical students.  The Rush Medical College was trying to modernize and change of the culture of how new medical students were taught surgical medicine.

On of her first days of work, she was to be introduced to the department faculty and new medical students at the start of the new semester in a large auditorium in the medical college.  That morning, the room was filled with mostly male faculty members, surgeons, who were all medical doctors and had, MD, after their names and a large group of new, mostly male medical students.

Linnea was one of a very small number of females in the room and one of the only faculty member who was not a medical doctor.  Since she was new, she was to be one of the first people introduced that morning to the faculty and the new medical students.  On the first slide of the power point presentation for her introduction was her name:

                Dr. Linnea Hague, MD

The mistake in her title was a mistake made by the secretarial staff member who just assumed she was an MD and did not know she was a PhD.

When the slide was put up on the screen in the auditorium, the first words out of Linnea’s mouth were:

 “Who DEMOTED me?” 

Who DEMOTED me from PhD to MD? 

Dr. Linnea Hague, PhD

I have a PhD and not an MD.”

There was absolute silence in the room. A few surgeons immediately got angry.  Others turned colors as they were horrified.  Everyone in the room was stunned by her comments.

What a way to start off a new job!  The surgical faculty and new medical students could see their culture shifting right before their eyes that very first morning.

For those of you who may not understand the significance (and the passive aggressive humor) of Linnea’s statements, many medical doctors bristle at the fact the people who have earned PhD degrees are called by the title, “doctor.”  Many of these medical doctors believe that the only real doctorate degrees are granted by medical schools and no one else other than those with an MD degree should be called by the title, “doctor.”

However, did you know the Doctor of Philosophy degree, the PhD degree, has been awarded as far back as the 1100’s in Europe. It is still the highest academic level awarded in the United States and other countries.  The PhD degree is earned following a long course of study in a specific field of study and the production of original research in the form of a dissertation that significantly expands the boundaries of knowledge in that field study.  The PhD degree always has carried with it, the title of “doctor” since the 1100’s.

After Linnea shared the story with me, it was something we would always joke about when we talked or had lunch together in Chicago.  I would call her “Dr. Hauge” and she would call me “Dr. Lesavich.”  I earned a PhD in computer science, so I have earned the title of “doctor” as well.

Dr. Linnea’s work did initiate a change in the department of surgery at Rush Medical College. She served as the Interim Director of the Center of Medical Education and Research at Rush. Linnea made many significant contributions in the field of surgical education before leaving for a new position at the University of Michigan. 

Unfortunately, while at teaching at Rush, Linnea was diagnosed with breast cancer and passed away while working at the University of Michigan.  Linnea’s time on earth was short.  She passed away at age 46, but made a big impact.

In fact, a lecture series was named in her honor at Rush in the Department of Surgery and an annual award is given each year in her honor to a promising scholar by the Association for Surgical Education.

I had the opportunity to say a few words at Dr. Linnea’s memorial service after she passed away.  Many of those same faculty members from the Department of Surgery from Rush were there that day. 

My few words included retelling the story about Linnea’s first days of at work at Rush.  In fact, when I started my eulogy, I stood up and said, “Hi, I am DOCTOR Stephen Lesavich, PhD.  I would like to share a story about DOCTOR Linnea Hauge, PhD, during her first days at the Rush Medical College…”

It is not too surprising I received only nervous laughter and many strange looks from the faculty members from the Department of Surgery from Rush that day.

Dr. Linnea Hauge, PhD was an empowered woman who initiated positive change in the world.  What does is mean to be empowered?

  1. Being empowered, is knowing you are supported by a Higher Power, having a vision of yourself and others, having confidence in yourself and being optimistic when facing any challenges in your life.

2. Being empowered, means your vision includes those things you can see with your eyes and those things you cannot see with your eyes but see instead see with your intuition by having faith and trust in that Higher Power.

3. Being empowered, means you know that you will not be affected by internal or external events or the collective energy and can always arrive at an outcome that you desire as a powerful co-creator of your own reality.

Being empowered means you can create a positive impact for yourself and all the people you come in contact with in your own life.

I miss talking with you and laughing with you, Dr. Linnea Hauge, PhD.  Rest in peace, my friend.

Out There on the Edge of Everything® …

Stephen Lesavich, PhD

Copyright © 2021, by Stephen Lesavich, PhD.  All rights reserved.

Certified solution-focused life coach and experienced business coach.

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