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HCA Awards of Distinction 2014 - Jennifer Dow

Looking back, Dr. Jennifer Dow’s career path makes a lot of sense. An active childhood gave her a love of the outdoors. A love of skiing, plus her father’s influence, led to her involvement with the National Ski Patrol by the time she was 15 (the youngest age allowed). Seeing the occasional injured hiker led to an interest in medicine, and from her home in California to the Medical College of Wisconsin and York Hospital in Pennsylvania, she kept up with her ski patrol duties. Now, after 18 years at Alaska Regional Hospital, Dr. Dow has become the go-to doctor for injured citizens and wilderness buffs alike.

And her efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. In 2000, she started working with the mountaineering rangers in the South district of the Denali National Park and Preserve; by 2006, she was responsible for five different areas of the park. Eventually she was named the National Park Lands Medical Director for the entire state — still a volunteer position. Her work was recognized with the George H. Longenbaugh Award from the Alaska Council of Emergency Medical Services, and by 2010 she had become a medical advisor for the Alaska Region of the National Park Service — still as a volunteer.

In her various park duties, Dr. Dow spends thousands of hours a year in training, as well as out in the parkland caring for as many as 500 patients suffering anything from minor medical issues to heart attacks and other major emergencies. She brings the same can-do spirit to her emergency-room duties, making sure that every member of the team has input on treatment techniques and processes that enhance both efficiency and patient care. Mentoring also is front and center when she serves as an adjunct associate professor for the Division of Emergency Medicine at the University of Utah. She also serves as the Chair for the American Red Cross of Alaska Board of Directors.

In addition to the Longenbaugh Award, other accolades have included the American College of Emergency Physicians’ Hero of Emergency Medicine award and the George B. Hertzog, Jr. Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service from the National Park Service.

The awards and honors, however, are “not what defines Dr. Dow,” says Tanguy Libbrecht, CEO of the American Red Cross of Alaska. “What strikes me most is her humble nature, coupled with a real down to earth, sensible approach to care for her patients. [She] wishes to be known not for her title or her accomplishments, but rather for how she has made a difference.”