The Densen-Burton Scholarship seeks to improve the patient-physician relationship by encouraging medical students to keep alive throughout their careers the youthful idealism and natural compassion for people that compelled them to become doctors in the first place.
The Densen-Burton Scholarship is intended to memorialize Stephanie Burton, who lived with cancer for 20 years, raising two sons and pursuing a successful career as a product development and marketing executive at National Computer Systems (NCS) in Iowa City. She credited doctors at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for the vibrant quality of life she enjoyed during most of those years, despite periodic recurrences of the disease. However, she was also critical of the lack of communication and cooperation among the various specialists who treated her and their seeming indifference to the painful side effects of some of the very regimes they prescribed.
Toward the end of her life she determined to do what she could to sensitize an increasingly technology-driven health care system to the most basic—but too often neglected—needs of patients for sympathy, understanding, and straightforward advice about their medical options. She decided that the best place to start was with students. In the course of her illness, she had accepted invitations from Dr. Peter Densen, then-Associate Dean of the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, to share her thoughts about the impact of cancer on her personal, social, and professional life with successive incoming classes of first year medical students during their annual orientation sessions. Those dialogues gave her an insight into the toll that long years of rigorous training and patient suffering exacts on the altruistic spirit of students by the time they become specialists. They motivated her to
establish a scholarship fund to help defray both the financial and the emotional costs of becoming a doctor.
She put up the seed money for a fund to be named after Dr. Densen, whom she considered the embodiment, in his life as well as his practice, of the humanistic qualities she most wished to promote. During more than three decades of friendship, Densen and his wife, Ellie, provided wise counsel and sympathy, not only to Stephanie, but also to her late father and mother Charles and Helen Burton, to whom the fund is also dedicated. After Stephanie’s death, her friends and family endowed the Densen Burton fund in her memory.
Congratulations on receiving the Densen-Burton Scholarship