The Barbara Latenser Memorial Scholarship

BARBARA ALICE HOPE LATENSER, Dec.18, 1952- June 15, 2015

Barbara loved life! She explored it, dissected it, lived it with gusto, and gave it to others. Her passion for learning, solving complex problems, mastering information and techniques, and teaching was only surpassed by her deep-seated humanitarian drive to help those in need.

She was instilled at an early age with a sense of travel and adventure, which would become a lifelong passion. She was also fascinated with antique houses and had the unique ability to see a transformed beauty from what most would see as nothing but a wreck. Everywhere she lived, she bought a run-down antique home and completely transformed and remodeled it to its original stunning beauty.

By the time she was halfway through college (originally a history major) she realized she wanted to go into medicine. She switched gears and entered University of Colorado School of Nursing, graduating in 1976.

In 1977 Barbara married an Air Force pilot and once again began the cycle of moving. The couple finally settled in Las Vegas, NV. While her husband was stationed overseas, she completed medical school at the University of Nevada, graduating in 1985, and completing a 5-year surgery residency in Las Vegas. The couple divorced in 1986.

Barbara accepted a trauma fellowship at the hospital of University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, the first women to attain that goal. After the fellowship she became the Medical Director of PENNSTAR, the hospital’s helicopter team.

From 1992-1998, she worked in Pittsburg, PA as a trauma and burn surgeon. She bought a turn of the century home in the historic Shadyside area and spent the next five years restoring the home to its original grandeur.

It was during this time that Barbara volunteered for Doctors Without Borders and went to Bosnia during the war. It was also during this time that she became involved in Operation Safety Net, providing medical care to homeless people at the street level.

In 1998, Barbara became a Burn Center Director at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. In 13 months, she transformed the burn unit into a fully verified burn center. She then supervised the relocation of the entire center into the new hospital in 2002.

In 2004, she accepted the position as Burn Center Director at the University of Iowa. She purchased the historic Milton Rumley house and completely restored the mansion to its original splendor. She was also appointed the Clara L. Smith Professor of Burn Treatment. During her tenure, she received numerous research grants, resulting in over eighty peer-reviewed publications.

Barbara’s dedication to international burn care and prevention took her to over ninety countries including the remote areas of Tibet, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, the Australian outback and Zambia. She was responsible for getting a burn unit built in the mission hospital in Katete and worked with the local people there teaching burn safety, care and prevention. She also co-founded the International Outreach Committee of the American Burn Association.

She would have been proud and probably very surprised to have a scholarship named in her honor.

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