Alumni board president Topher Stephenson is looking to add more energy and value to a growing group of UC Davis School of Medicine graduates.

Alumni board president Topher Stephenson is looking to add more energy and value to a growing group of UC Davis School of Medicine graduates.

New board president on a mission

Physician Topher Stephenson’s journey to become the president of UC Davis School of Medicine’s Alumni Association Board was one largely guided by his mentor, the late physician David Kilmer.

In fact, Kilmer, who passed away in 2009, was much of the reason Stephenson was inspired to find a residency – and a home – at UC Davis.

Stephenson had met Kilmer during his fourth year of medical school on a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation rotation at UC Davis. Kilmer was the chair of the department at the time and immediately impressed Stephenson with his innovative work – and the compassion with which he delivered it. Not only did Kilmer become instrumental in the young medical student’s selection of PM&R as his specialty, he continued to mentor Stephenson throughout his career.

Stephenson has since thrived as a physiatrist with Mercy Medical Group where he is completely committed to improving his patients’ quality of life.

“By focusing on function, and the restoration of function, I have the pleasure of treating a broad range of ages, abilities and disabilities. On any given day, I might see an adolescent athlete with a concussion, a patient with a decades old spinal cord injury or a high-level athlete with knee or shoulder pain. As Robin Williams’ character said during the movie Patch Adams: ‘Our job is improving the quality of life, not just delaying death.’ I think that about sums it up.”

In the last several years, Stephenson had become increasingly involved in the School of Medicine Alumni Association’s Board. Now, as president, he hopes he can “pay forward” the kind of valued mentorship, guidance and leadership he once so generously received from his mentor Kilmer.

He has many goals for the alumni group.

“We need to continue bringing alumni into the fold. There are a variety of different opportunities to contribute: donating, mentoring our medical students and residents, serving as volunteer clinical faculty. As a relatively young institution, we are continuing to build momentum; UC Davis has room to grow and continue making huge impacts both nationally and internationally.”

Stephenson also aims to build on this year’s $110,000 in contributions to the alumni board’s scholarship fund.

“We need to support our med students and our school. UC Davis is growing by leaps and bounds. It’s an amazing tradition to be part of; we want to continue strengthening the community and growing the phenomenal work being done here.”

In addition to Stephenson’s role on the board, he also serves on the board of directors for the Brain Injury Association of California.

“The best part of my day is when I walk out of an exam room knowing that a patient has a new understanding about their problem and that they are optimistic and engaged in their recovery.”