Robert Ulstrom received his B.S. in 1943 and his M.D. in 1946 from the University of Minnesota. In 1950, Dr. Ulstrom returned to the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Department of Pediatrics, where he served from 1950 to 1953, 1956 to 1964, and from 1966 until his retirement in 1990. Between 1966 and 1970, Ulstrom served as associate dean of the University of Minnesota’s Medical School.
Robert Ulstrom begins the interview by describing his background, including his education, his service in the US Army, and why he became a pediatrician. He reflects on his mentor Irvine McQuarrie, and his colleagues John Anderson, Robert Howard, and Lyle French. He discusses his experiences in University of Minnesota Medical School, his move to UCLA, his return to the University of Minnesota in the mid-1950s, and his work as associate dean in the College of Medical Sciences. Other topics discussed include, his research, the private practice issue, relations with affiliated hospitals and their faculty after the expansion of the Medical School class size in the 1960s, the curriculum revision in the 1960s, the attempt to establish a medical school in St. Paul, the establishment of the Department of Family Practice, tensions between private practice physicians and Medical School physicians, the effort to establish a Minneapolis children’s hospital in the 1960s, tensions between Minneapolis and St. Paul physicians, the reorganization of the health sciences into the Academic Health Center in 1970, the Mayo Clinic and the Mayo School of Medicine.
Robert Ulstrom was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on February 23, 1923. He attended the University of Minnesota for his undergraduate and medical education, receiving his BS in 1943 and his MD in 1946. He completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York. From 1948-50, he served in the Army Medical Corps. He then returned to the University of Minnesota as an instructor in the Department of Pediatrics in 1950 and was promoted to Assistant Professor in 1952. From 1953-1956, he worked in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California, Los Angeles. He returned to the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota in 1956 as Associate Professor. In 1961, he was promoted to Professor and became the acting chair of the Department of Pediatrics. In 1964, he returned to UCLA as the chairman of the Department of Pediatrics. He returned to the University of Minnesota in 1966 as Associate Dean and Professor of Pediatrics. He retired from the dean’s office in 1970 and returned to the Department of Pediatrics. He retired from the University of Minnesota in 1990.