Lori Alvord

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Lori Arviso Alvord
Born Lori Arviso
Crownpoint, New Mexico, US[1]
Nationality American Indian
Alma mater Dartmouth College (A.B.)
Stanford University School of Medicine (M.D.)
Occupation Surgeon
Years active 1994–present
Known for First Diné woman to be board certified in surgery
2013 nominee for U.S. Surgeon General[2]
Spouse(s) Jonathan Alvord[3]
Children Kodiak Alvord[3]
Kaitlyn Alvord[3]
Parent(s) Robert Cupp (father)
Relatives 2 sisters

Lori Arviso Alvord (born 1958) is a surgeon and author. She is perhaps best known for being the first Diné woman to ever become board certified in surgery.[4] Her autobiography, The Scalpel and the Silver Bear, has brought increased attention to her career as a surgeon and has sold over 50,000 copies.[5] Dr. Alvord was also nominated to serve as the U.S. Surgeon General in 2013.[6] Dr. Alvord uses new techniques that bring together Navajo healing techniques and modern Western Medicine.[7][8]

Personal life[edit]

Alvord was born in a small town called Crownpoint, New Mexico, which is located on a Navajo reservation adjacent to New Mexico,[1] to a Diné father and a White mother.[9] English was the first language spoken in her home.[10][11] She is a member of the Tsinnajinne' (Black Streaked Wood) clan (Ponderosa Pine), and of the Ashihii' Dine' (Salt People) clan.[12][13]


Dr. Alvord graduated from Crownpoint High School in Crownpoint, New Mexico. .[14] Alvord's academic career began when she was accepted to Dartmouth College. She initially majored in Natural Sciences before transitioning into a major focusing on social sciences.[15] She graduated from Dartmouth College in 1979 after double majoring in psychology and sociology, and minoring in Native American studies.[12][16] Following graduation, Dr. Alvord was undertook a career as a research assistant at the Veteran's Administration clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico, New Mexico. The doctor who coordinated research in the lab suggested that she should go medical school to Alvord, which caused her to blush.[15] Dr. Alvord then enrolled into the University of New Mexico to retake pre-med courses, and proceeded to apply to medical school. Dr. Alvord was accepted into Stanford University Medical School, where she earned her M.D. in 1985. She completed a six-year residency at Stanford University Hospital, and earned her board certification as a surgeon in 1994,[17] which led to her becoming the first board-certified female Diné surgeon.[18]

After studying medicine at Stanford University, she returned to her Navajo reservation in New Mexico only to learn that, despite her technical skills in medicine being integral to saving the patient, simple "fixing" of the problem was not sufficient to fully cure a patient. Incorporating the psychological and spiritual aspect of healing was important as well. This led to her new way of approaching medicine that look into a patient's past environments, relationships, and making sure the hospital is designed in such a way to include artwork and nature. In her mind, "Beauty is so important—artwork on the walls, gardens, outdoor porches with a view. A hospital should also have the right smells, the right foods, the right sounds, the things in life that soothe us. We should also avoid the things that are wrong, that cause stress—no harsh sounds, no bright lights, no invasive overhead paging."[7] She has written a book on her experiences, entitled The Scalpel and the Silver Bear.[8]

From 1991-1997, Dr. Alvord practiced as a surgeon with the Indian Health Service, at one of its facilities in Gallup, from 1991-1997.[3] Alvord was also the associate dean for student affairs at Dartmouth Medical School as well as assistant professor of surgery and psychiatry at Dartmouth from 1997-2009.[3] From 2003 onwards, Dr. Alvord served as an Associate Faculty member for the Center for American Indian Health at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.[16] From 2008-2010, Dr. Alvord served on the National Advisory Council for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NACCAM), the principal advisory body to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a component of the National Institutes of Health.[19] From 2010-2012, Dr. Alvord served as the Associate Dean of the Central Michigan University College of Medicine,[16][20] which opened during the Fall 2013 semester. She was an instrumental part in developing the new medical school.[19] She was also the associate dean of student affairs and admissions at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, in Tucson, Arizona from 2012-2014.[12]

Awards and Recognition[edit]

In 2001, Dr. Alvord received an honorary degree from Albany Medical College.[21] In 2006, Dr. Alvord received an honorary degree from Drexel University.[16] In 2009, Dr. Alvord was bequeathed an honorary degree from Pine Manor College.[16]

In 1992, Dr. Alvord was the recipient of Governor’s Award for Outstanding New Mexico Women, from former governor of New Mexico, Bruce King.[16] In 1999, Dr. Alvord was the recipient of the American Medical Writers Association the 2000 Will Solimene Award of Excellence, for the publication “Warp and Weft”, an excerpt from The Scalpel and the Silver Bear.[16] In 2000, Dr. Alvord was the recipient of Circles Book Award from Georgia College and State University for her autobiography, The Scalpel and the Silver Bear.[16] In 2003, Dr. Alvord was the recipient of Veterans Affairs Federal Appreciation Award, The White River Junction Veterans Affairs Medical Center.[16]

In 2013, Dr. Alvord's philosophy has earned her recognition, as the National Indian Health Board and the National Congress of American Indians have both endorsed her to be Surgeon General of the United States.[22]


  1. ^ a b "The Scalpel and the Silver Bear Summary & Study Guide Description". BookRags. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  2. ^ "Congratulations on your nomination, Dr. Arviso Alvord!". Yale College. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Dir. of Special Projects, Univ. of Arizona Medical School". Missouri State University. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  4. ^ "Changing the Face of Medicine". U.S. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  5. ^ "From Navajo Healing Ceremonies to Twenty-first Century Medicine". Monadnock Summer Lyceum. 17 August 2014. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  6. ^ Lee, Tanya (26 July 2013). "First Board-Certified Navajo Female Surgeon Nominated for U.S. Surgeon General". Indian Country Today Media Network. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  7. ^ a b "Dr. Lori Arviso Alvord". National Library of Medicine. Retrieved April 14, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b "Lori Alvord, MD". University of Arizona Health Network. Retrieved April 14, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Associate Dean Lori Arviso Alvord, MD, Sees Priorities for Medical Admissions and Student Affairs". The University of Arizona College of Medicine. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  10. ^ http://www.lapahie.com/Lori_Arviso-Alvord.cfm
  11. ^ "Dr. Lori Arviso-Alvord". LaPahie. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  12. ^ a b c "Dartmouth Alumni". University of Dartmouth. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  13. ^ "Virtual Mentor" (PDF). American Medical Association Journal of Ethics. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  14. ^ Baker, Deborah (1 August 1999). "Surgeon Operates in 2 Worlds". LATimes. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  15. ^ a b "Navajo Times". Navajo Times. 31 October 2011. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i Arviso Alvord, Lori. "Curriculum Vitae: Lori Arviso Alvord, MD" (PDF). Wichita State University. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  18. ^ "Lori Arviso Alvord". American Indians and Alaska Natives in Health Careers. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  19. ^ a b "Navajo Surgeon Dr. Lori Arviso Alvord Joins UA College of Medicine – Tucson". The University of Arizona College of Medicine. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  20. ^ "Senior Officers 2012" (PDF). Central Michigan University. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  21. ^ "Native Investigator". Colorado School of Public Health Centers for American Indian & Alaska Native Health. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  22. ^ "Dr. Lori Arviso Alvord Endorsed as a Candidate for United States Surgeon General". University of Arizona Health Network. Retrieved April 14, 2014.