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Former award-winning journalist becomes a podiatrist (11/06/98)

V. Kathleen Satterfield, DPM, assistant professor of podiatry in the department of orthopaedics, is a native Texan and a multifaceted, multitalented individual with a varied background.

Prior to joining the Health Science Center, Dr. Satterfield was Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at the College of Podiatric Medicine & Surgery, University of Osteopathic Medicine and Health Sciences in Des Moines, Iowa, and staff podiatric physician at the Wound Care Center of Iowa. She has also been an award winning journalist who has accrued numerous honors and was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

"This is my second career," Dr. Satterfield said. "My first, as a journalist, was with The El Paso Times, a Gannett newspaper. I began as a feature writer and later worked my way up to become a member of an investigative team.

"The last story I worked on was a dangerous one. During the course of the story, threats were made against my life," she said. "One evening my car was run off the road into oncoming traffic by the subject of the story. Also, my husband resembled the person we were investigating--the one who had run me off the road--and when he arrived home that night, the guards (who had been hired by the newspaper) wouldn't let him come into the house.

"After my husband was finally allowed in, he looked at me and said, 'Couldn't you do something a little safer?'" she added.

Dr. Satterfield had met some podiatrists while writing her final story and had expressed an interest in medicine. "These people told me that podiatry is a good thing to get into later in life because there are a lot of non-traditional students in the profession," she said, "so I pursued it."

Dr. Satterfield's surgical residency was at a Yale University School of Medicine clinical campus. "After I completed my residency, I began practicing in Vermont," Dr. Satterfield said. "On the way to the operating room one morning I fell and did some terrific back damage. I was paralyzed for four months and had to learn to walk again. During recovery I received a call from my alma mater. They invited me to return, to teach. Since this was a wonderful opportunity to recuperate and to regain my health, I accepted."

Dr. Satterfield quickly rose through the ranks to become the associate dean of academic affairs.

"A few years later, Dr. Harkless came along and asked me to come to the Health Science Center. He has an international reputation and I consider myself very fortunate," she said. Dr. Satterfield is referring to Dr. Lawrence Harkless, professor in the department of orthopaedics and director of the podiatry residency training program at the Health Science Center.

While Dr. Satterfield was studying medicine, her husband, a former television producer, attended the Culinary Institute of America and became a chef. "So we both left our previous careers and started all over," she said.

When asked the story she considered the most interesting during her journalism career, Dr. Satterfield smiled. "Feature writing was fun," she said. "I interviewed a lot of people in the entertainment industry, among them Arnold Swarzeneggar, who was filming Conan the Barbarian on location in the mountains of Mexico.

"He didn't want to be interviewed but I finagled an interview with him," she added. "He turned out to be a very nice person who, surprisingly, is business-oriented. Later I found out his degree is in business.

"One of the people I enjoyed talking to most was Red Skelton," Dr. Satterfield added. "What a wonderful man he was. He was being interviewed in a restaurant at about 2 in the afternoon and there weren't many customers. When it came time to photograph him, he got up and introduced himself to the other customers and asked them to move over it would appear they were sitting behind him. That way, in the photograph the restaurant looked very busy."

Dr. Satterfield, who was born in Shamrock, went to boarding school at St. Mary's Hall in San Antonio for a few years. She then attended The University of Texas at El Paso, where she earned a BA in Mass Communications. Dr. Satterfield began her medical career in 1991.

Contact: Jan Elkins