Dr. Sarah Donaldson begins her interviews by talking about her early life growing up in Portland, Oregon in the years during and after WWII. She describes her work during high school as a candy striper and nurse’s aide, and her later decision to study nursing at the University of Oregon. Dr. Donaldson speaks of her first job working for a cancer surgeon named Bill Fletcher who mentored her and ultimately encouraged her to go to medical school at a time when very few women were becoming doctors. She subsequently attended Dartmouth Medical School for two years and then transferred to Harvard for her last two years.
Initially, Dr. Donaldson wanted to be a cancer surgeon but changed her mind and pursued radiation oncology. She took a residency at Stanford and specialized in pediatric radiation oncology when it was not yet a known field. Dr. Donaldson then became an assistant professor and set up a pediatric radiation oncology program at Stanford. She describes liking the small, family-like department she was in and feeling inspired by her colleagues to do her best work. While she enjoys all facets of her job, Dr. Donaldson mentioned particularly liking mentoring young female doctors and taking care of patients.
Dr. Donaldson goes on to describe how many opportunities came to her because there were so few women in her field and how she was lacking a female mentor in her early years. She concludes the interview by talking about some of her more meaningful awards and honors as well as her publications that have had the most impact.
Sarah Donaldson, Stanford Historical Society, oral histories, interviews, American Society of Radiation Oncology, feminist movement, and Committee on the Education and Employment of Women
January 3, 2015 - January 31, 2015
Stanford Historical Society Oral History Program interviews, 1999-2012