An Elder, A Leader, An Alumnus:
Walt Hollow, M.D. ’75

Walt Hollow, M.D. ’75, is admired for leading in a traditional way: with humility and grace, strength and compassion. He’s shown here discussing a patient’s chest X-ray with Brooke Parker, M.D. (off camera), a first-year family medicine resident.

A calming presence, a great teacher, always willing to help students. That’s how Hailey Wilson, M.D. ’14, now a family medicine resident, describes Walter Hollow, M.D. ’75, the first Native American to graduate from the UW School of Medicine.

“I first heard about Dr. Hollow when he was medical director at the Nez Perce Nimiipuu Health Center in northern Idaho,” Wilson recalls. “After I graduated from Boise State, he hired me as a patient educator, then urged me to apply to medical school. He’s been a wonderful mentor.”

To honor Hollow’s efforts to improve healthcare for Native Americans and to mentor students locally and nationally, the Washington Academy of Family Physicians (WAFP) honored Hollow with a 2014 Family Medicine Educator of the Year Award. The award also celebrates Hollow’s efforts to establish innovative education programs for Native healthcare professionals, notes Leo Morales, M.D. ’90, Ph.D., FACP, director of the School’s Center for Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (CEDI). “Dr. Hollow continues to be an ally and supporter of our efforts to recruit Native students and to address the health needs of Native people in our region,” Morales says.

Hollow was active on the Seattle Indian Health Board (SIHB) and UW Medicine’s clinical faculty, establishing family medicine residency rotations for physicians who wanted to work in Indian health. While with the School’s Office of Multicultural Affairs (now CEDI), he obtained a federal grant to create the Native American Center of Excellence, serving as director for 10 years.

“Dr. Hollow emphasized that traditional medicine is a vital partner to Western healthcare for Native patients,” says Terry Maresca, M.D., a UW Medicine clinical faculty member who works with the SIHB and the Puyallup Tribal Authority. “He put the UW School of Medicine on the map nationally as a magnet for Native students.”

Hollow also created UW Medicine’s Indian Health Pathway, an important curricular innovation that allows students of all backgrounds to learn how to work more effectively with Native patients. More than 75 medical students have received pathway certificates, and Hollow still serves as a preceptor.

“Indian health status is the lowest of any American minority group. Pneumonia, homicide, suicide, diabetes and chronic liver disease are the top five causes of mortality,” says Hollow. “The pathway curriculum teaches strategies for treating these problems and helps future physicians prepare for working successfully in Indian country.”

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