David M. Lawrence, MD, MPH


David M. Lawrence MD, MPH served as Director of MEDEX Northwest from 1973-1977. He also served as Chairman of the National Council of MEDEX programs in 1974. During his tenure, Dr. Lawrence and his colleagues made significant changes to the Original MEDEX curriculum, in particular, by tightening the apprenticeship component — when the student spent time working directly under the guidance and supervision of a practicing physician. The basic science component of the curriculum was also strengthened. Finally, the selection criteria for admission into MEDEX Northwest were broadened to enable students from a variety of health-related backgrounds enter the program. At the same time, the student body remained largely composed of former military corpsmen returning from active service.

Dr. Lawrence received his undergraduate degree from Amherst College in 1962, graduating with Alfred and Blair Sadler. He completed his MD degree from the College of Medicine, University of Kentucky; served his internship at the University of Kentucky Hospitals in a joint Medicine-Pediatrics program before, joining the USPHS. Dr. Lawrence also served as a physician with the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic and later returned to Washington, DC, where he held a variety of roles in the Office of Medical Programs, including the directorship of the training program to prepare physicians for their overseas assignments with the Peace Corps. After two years in Chile with Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Lawrence returned to Seattle, WA, to complete his MPH degree and Preventive Medicine Residency at the School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Washington. He received his degree in 1973, and was made a Fellow in General Preventive Medicine in 1974.

Subsequent to his tenure at the University of Washington with the MEDEX program and the faculty of the Schools of Public Health and Community Medicine, and the School of Medicine, Dr. Lawrence moved to Portland, OR as Medical Director of the Multnomah County Department of Human Services. In 1978 he was named Director of the Department and Health Officer for Multnomah County. In 1981 he joined the Northwest Permanente Medical Group and Kaiser Permanente as an Area Medical Director and Chief of Staff of the Bess Kaiser Hospital, a position he held until his transfer to Denver, CO., in 1985. There, he served as Regional Manager of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals until 1988, at which time he assumed the leadership of Kaiser Permanente’s largest region in Northern California. In 1990 he was named Vice Chairman, and in 1991 he became CEO of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals. A year later he became Chairman of the Board while continuing his CEO duties. He retired from KP in 2002.

Since then, Dr. Lawrence has been active in consulting, writing, and advising private equity and venture capital firms. He serves on the Boards of Agilent Technologies and the McKesson Corporation, as well as on the board of or advising the CEO’s of several early stage health care companies. He is a member of the faculty of the Estes Park Institute.

Dr. Lawrence is the author of From Chaos to Care: The Promise of Team Based Medicine (Perseus Press, 2002). He expects to complete his next book by the end of 2012. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine and the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honorary Society. He has received honorary degrees from Amherst College, Colgate University, and the University of Kentucky. He has been inducted into the Hall of Fame of the School of Public Health, University of Kentucky, and the Hall of Distinguished Alumni at the University of Kentucky. He has received similar recognition from the School of Hygiene and Public Health, Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Lawrence lives in Geyserville, CA, with his wife, Stephanie. They have four children, and six grandchildren.

This biography was prepared by David M. Lawrence, MD with the editorial assistance of Alfred M. Sadler, Jr., MD, and was submitted to the Society in August 2012.

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