Remembering Lori Weichenthal, MD, FACEP

February 6, 2023 | By UCSF School of Medicine

Dr. Lori WeichenthalIt is with profound sadness that we share the news of the passing of Lori Weichenthal, MD, FACEP, UCSF Fresno Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education and Clinical Affairs; Designated Institutional Officer (DIO); Associate Program Director UCSF Fresno Emergency Medicine; and UCSF Professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine. Dr. Weichenthal, a trailblazer, leader, and role model in the fields of Emergency Medicine (EM), Wilderness Medicine, as well as a vanguard for physician wellness and for diversity, equity, and belonging, died on February 3, 2023, after a prolonged illness.

Dr. Weichenthal completed her medical degree at the UCSF School of Medicine in San Francisco and her EM residency at UCSF Fresno. A fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians, Dr. Weichenthal was a pioneer in the field, one of only two women in the UCSF Fresno Department of EM when she began her residency in 1994. Serving as a guiding star for the women who have followed, in 1998 she joined the EM faculty as a clinical instructor, quickly rising to UCSF assistant clinical professor, associate clinical professor, and in 2014, to UCSF professor. 

With an interest in Wilderness Medicine, Dr. Weichenthal created the EM Wilderness Medicine Fellowship in 2008, serving as program director in its first years, while developing the curriculum. Recently, she worked with other fellowships nationwide to create a standardized curriculum for Wilderness Medicine. 

Dr. Weichenthal was a leader in resident and medical student education at UCSF Fresno, first being appointed as Assistant Dean for Graduate Medical Education (GME) in 2016 to provide oversight to the residency and fellowship programs. In November 2021, she was named Associate Dean for GME and Clinical Affairs, while remaining deeply involved in the EM residency program, as Associate Residency Director. 

Her leadership included starting a Women in Academic Medicine group at UCSF Fresno to help address the disparities that exist between men and women in academic medicine. In 2018, to help better understand the culture at UCSF Fresno around diversity and inclusion, Dr. Weichenthal founded a committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). And she was instrumental in the appointment of Andrea “Drea” Long, MD, a UCSF Fresno surgeon, as the campus’ DEI director in 2021. 

With wellness being a special interest, Dr. Weichenthal developed a wellness curriculum for UCSF Fresno residents and extensively researched wellness in residency training, becoming a nationwide voice for the importance of physician wellness programs. She served on the national level in EM physician organizations to bring the importance of wellness for physicians to the attention of all. And she conducted research looking at burn out rates in EM residents and at whether a wellness curriculum might decrease burn out and compassion fatigue; recently completing a study on the impact of a mindfulness meditation course on trainee and faculty wellness. 

Dr. Weichenthal received numerous awards and honors throughout her career, including being inducted into the UCSF Academy of Medical Educators, receiving an Excellence in Teaching Award in Medical Education from the Haile T. Debas Academy of Medical Educators, a Kaiser Award nominee, faculty and research awards, a Letter of Distinction from the American College of Emergency Physicians, mentoring distinctions from UCSF and Women in Academic Emergency Medicine, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Fresno-Madera Medical Society, and a host of other honors and recognitions. 

Dr. Weichenthal is remembered by her colleagues as compassionate, caring, and kind. Her impact on residents, fellows, students, and her colleagues is substantial, and she will be deeply missed. On behalf of the School of Medicine, we would like to extend our condolences to Dr. Weichenthal’s family, friends, and close colleagues. Her loss will be felt far and wide.