Beauty Is Certainly More Than Skin Deep

Physician's Money Digest, March15 2004, Volume 11, Issue 5

The Tonight Show with JayLeno

Last month, a very special guest, Abby Julo,appeared on the . She responded perfectly to Leno's questions:Who's the current leader of Romania?Who was the US Secretary of State under Jefferson?Pretty extraordinary, for a 5-year-old. As I listened to thebright, chubby-cheeked little kindergartener, I couldn'thelp but think, where will her life go and what contributionswill she make to the world? What will she be—aresearcher for cancer, politician, writer?

One such child prodigy has grown up to be a veryaccomplished musician, physician,and model. Tina Sauerhammer, MD,moved quickly toward high aspirations.At age 2, she was taking piano,cello, and swimming lessons. Now, atage 23, she's a beauty pageant winner,researcher, and physician.

Education Fast Track

With the support of her parents and teachers, shemoved quickly through school, skipping high schoolentirely to enter college at age 14 and medical schoolat age 18. She was the University of Wisconsin (UW)-Green Bay's youngest graduate at age 18 (graduatingsumma cum laude) and, at age 22, was UW MedicalSchool's youngest student to obtain an MD. Dr.Sauerhammer received many honors throughout collegeand medical school.

During her medical studies, the young physicianresearched stem cell transplant surgery and completeda rotation at UW Children's Hospital. In an interviewwith the UW Medical Foundation (UWMF), she commentedthat in her surgery rotation, she enjoyedworking with her hands and having "that directimpact on people." Having an impact on people iswhat she loves most about medicine.

Beautiful Cause

Dr. Sauerhammer took a short break from her medicalcareer last year to prepare for her competition in the annualMiss America pageant last September, representingWisconsin. Despite some misgivings voiced by her family,Dr. Sauerhammer insisted that competing gave her yetanother chance to directly impact others. In the UWMFarticle, she commented, "I was always asked, ‘Why areyou bothering with pageants—you're a doctor?' Peoplethink it's a beauty pageant, but it's about the scholarshipmoney and giving a voice to implement the platform youfeel strongly about." She was named Second Runner-Up(behind Miss Florida and Miss Hawaii), for which shewas awarded a $30,000 scholarship.

The platform she held was one very close to her heart,organ donation. For years, the young physician's fatherhad battled an autoimmune disease. While waiting for akidney transplant 2 years ago that never came, he passedaway. Dr. Sauerhammer refused to allow this to daunther, and instead rallied her efforts in his memory.

Someone needs to work hard to get the word outabout organ donor awareness, she insisted. She used herlimelight to do so, supporting the organization Gift ofLife Donations throughout the Miss Wisconsin and MissAmerica competitions. She also became the nationaladvisor for the Department of Health and HumanServices' organ donation curriculum.

Bright Character

In addition to her accomplishments in beautypageants and medicine, Dr. Sauerhammer is also a talentedmusician. Her childhood cello lessons paid off,and she has performed in five major orchestras.

Fast Forward.

Those she encounters are impressed by the younglady's capabilities, as well as her humble, pleasant personality.In the UWMF article, the surgeon-in-chief atUW Children's Hospital, Dennis Lund, MD, pointed out,"Tina puts children and parents at ease because she'spleasant, enthusiastic, sincere, and always upbeat." She iscurrently writing a book,

Dr. Sauerhammer hopes to enter the UWDepartment of General Surgery this fall. She dreamsof becoming an accomplished pediatric surgeon, helpingto research cures for pediatric diseases, and continuingto gain awareness of the importance of organdonations. So far, this young physician-prodigy hasmade many contributions to the world, and promisesto continue doing so. I wonder if her parents saw thisin their 2-year-old cellist.