- Recipient of the Cora and Elmer Engel Prize for the outstanding undergraduate successfully combining sciences and the humanities
- Alpha Omega Alpha Award for the outstanding medical student in obstetrics and gynecology
- One of the founders of the Friends of KU Women’s Studies organization
- The first woman to be personally recommended by Emily Taylor for the Women’s Hall of Fame
Joan Brunfeldt, MD, has served many years as an exemplary female physician for the Lawrence community, “who does more than just ‘see’ patients.” One patient noted that she has come to “appreciate her skills as a physician, her ability to listen and empathize, and her absolute commitment to the practice of ‘quality’ medicine…an ideal doctor/patient relationship.”
She graduated from the University of Kansas in 1974 with degrees in Microbiology and German Studies, receiving the Cora and Elmer Engel Prize for the outstanding undergraduate successfully combining sciences and the humanities. She graduated from KU Medical School in 1977 and was honored with the Alpha Omega Alpha Award for the outstanding medical student in obstetrics and gynecology. Since completing her Internal Medicine residency in 1980, she has worked in private practice in Lawrence, Kansas.
Dr. Brunfeldt has taken a special interest in women’s health care issues; former Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Sally Mason declared “there is no stronger advocate nor committed spokesperson” in the community on these issues. She has attended an extensive course on osteoporosis and bone densitometry interpretation, performs treadmill testing, and has heightened awareness of female symptoms of coronary artery disease. She is glad to donate time to organizations to lecture on premenstrual syndrome, hormone replacement therapy, safe sex, sexually transmitted diseases, and human sexual behavior. She personally participates as a subject in KU Medical Center experimental protocols for oncology research in breast cancer to aid in research, diagnosis, and treatment of the disease for all women.
She has shown a particular concern for women outside of medical practice, as well. She was involved in KU’s “Expanding your Horizons” programs which exposed middle school-aged girls to science and math and exemplary women who had pursued careers in the field. She advocated against discrimination against women in medical school and has educated all ages on health issues. Dr. Brunfeldt was one of the founders of the Friends of KU Women’s Studies organization. She served on their board, was a member of the development committee for a Women and Work exhibit, brought enlightening programs to the community, and chaired the resurrection of the “Puff Pant Prom.” She served on the Board of Directors for the Children’s Learning Center, working to provide quality day care for working women, and was part of the planning committee for the KU Athletic Corporation’s 30th anniversary celebration of women’s sports at KU. One friend commented, “Certainly Joan is a powerful role model for young women trying to decide how much they can accomplish in their lives. With intelligence, compassion, grace, patience, warmth, and an always-present smile, Joan shows them and us that women make strong and meaningful contributions to their professions, to their families, to their communities, and to other women.”
Dr. Brunfeldt is also committed to aiding the needs of Lawrence’s senior citizens. She has served as Medical Director of Southwinds and Brandon Woods Nursing Homes and works to ensure their dignity and proper care. She was a co-chair for Lawrence’s extremely popular panel discussion and debate on the “Right to Die With Dignity When Medical Science Can No Longer Help,” and has also responded positively to many requests from the Older Women’s League for programs and information.
In the first thirty years of the existence of the KU Women’s Hall of Fame, Dr. Brunfeldt was the first recommendation ever made by Dr. Emily Taylor. In her nomination, Dr. Taylor stated, “[These] are but a few examples of the manner in which Joan Brunfeldt gives of herself, freely, to advance the status of women in our society. It is difficult to think of any other woman more deserving of this honor than Joan Brunfeldt.”