Neurology Today Profiles Lois Margaret Nora '87, New President of ABMS
Excerpted from Neurology Today:
In high school, Lois Margaret Nora, MD, JD, MBA, had sketched for her guidance counselor a near-exact representation of her current career path. Only she doesn't remember doing this — “Someone showed me my guidance counselor notes from high school a number of years ago, and I had written that I wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer or a teacher.”
Raised in a family of physicians, Dr. Nora was always interested in medicine, but it's intriguing that her career is now a “constellation of the three areas” described — education, law, and medicine, she said.
On June 29, Dr. Nora took office as president and chief executive of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) — a non-profit organization comprised of 24 medical professional member boards, including the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. “Board certification and Maintenance of Certification from an ABMS member board is focused on continuous education and assessment to help physicians serve patients and provide them with the quality of health care that we want patients to be receiving,” Dr. Nora said.
Her current role as president of the ABMS, she said, is a natural transition because of the mentors who taught her to always put patients first — “caring for the patient as a person while being very astute diagnosticians and treating the disease process.”
As a student at Rush Medical College in Chicago, Dr. Nora fell in love with neuroscience. She was exposed to extraordinary neurologists — clinicians and scientists, she said, naming Caroline Tanner, MD, PhD; Chris Goetz, MD; Bill Weiner, MD; Harold L. Klawans, MD; and Jordan L. Topel, MD. “My interest in neuroscience was further developed by looking at them and saying, ‘That's the kind of doctor I want to be.’” Earning her medical degree in 1979, Dr. Nora finished both her neurology residency and her fellowship in electromyography and neuromuscular disease at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center.
After training, Dr. Nora entered into private practice neurology, but also acted as a volunteer and eventually part-time clinical faculty member at Rush Medical College. “Ultimately I was invited to be part-time assistant dean at Rush and was responsible for their third and fourth years of medical school. Although I enjoyed the clinical practice very much, I also enjoyed the administrative aspects of medical education — and over time that slowly came to encompass more of my professional activities,” she said. From this time, Dr. Nora became increasingly interested in medical education as a whole, as well as the improvement of neurological and medical practice.
In 1987, Dr. Nora received a law degree from the University of Chicago Law School. She was drawn to law as a resident during the early 1980s — soon after some of the first publicized brain death cases. “There was a great deal of attention on neurology then, and its overlap with ethics and medical/legal issues. I think this tapped into the interest that I had [in high school], and I had the strong encouragement of Harold Klawans, who was then my chair, to pursue a legal degree.” Combining this knowledge, Dr. Nora's research interests have since included the intersection of law and medicine, gender discrimination in medical education, and biomedical ethics.
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