Leadership is a way of life for William D. Strampel, DO. He didn’t wake up one day and decide he wanted to become a leader—it just came naturally to him.
From a small town, Dr. Strampel was raised with a strong sense of social justice. His high school class of 34 people elected him class president and captain of the football team, but he says he doesn’t know why. Same thing when he was elected president of his intern class (as the only DO) and chief resident of medicine at Madigan Army Medical Center. “I don’t know why. I think people gravitated to the fact that I would talk to anybody, and didn’t judge anybody. One classmate said that I never treated him differently than anybody else, when most people always did. That was a crystalizing moment for me.”
He always thought he wanted to be a doctor, but after getting married and having his first two daughters while at Hope College, he decided to get a job with the Department of Labor. But he wasn’t satisfied. “My wife said, if you’re not happy, do what you want to do.” He applied to the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine after learning that his hometown doctor was a DO, which he hadn’t known. He was accepted on the day of his interview, wrote a check on the spot, then returned home to tell his wife they were moving to Chicago. “Enrolling in osteopathic medical school and relocating to a new city showed us how to expand our horizons, and I’ve never been unhappy with that decision at any time in my life.”
After graduation, Dr. Strampel spent 26 years with the U.S. Army Medical Corps, holding positions like consultant to the Army Surgeon General for quality assurance and risk management, commander at Brooke Army Medical Center and chief medical officer of the U.S. Defense Department’s TRICARE Management Activity, the nation's largest health management organization. His military awards are numerous, including the Legion of Merit and Meritorious Service Medal. He is a founding member of the Association of Military Osteopathic Physicians & Surgeons.
After retiring from active duty, Dr. Strampel joined the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine as Senior Associate Dean before being named Dean in 2002. Under his leadership, MSUCOM has ranked in the top 10% of all medical schools – MD and DO – for more than 15 years. Demonstrating his reputation for decisive innovation and implementation, he increased MSUCOM’s entering class size from 125 to 300 to address the nation’s physician workforce shortage. He established preclinical education programs and facilities at three sites in Michigan. MSUCOM’s Statewide Campus System is one of the nation’s largest graduate medical education consortia, with 1,752 DOs training in 224 programs last year. “I’m very proud of my great staff and great student body. I continue to have a good time with what I do. When I don’t have a good time, that’s when it’s time to retire!”
AOF President Larry A. Wickless, DO, speaks highly of his fellow Michigander. “William Strampel, DO, is a decisive, pragmatic, outstanding leader in medical education for the osteopathic profession. Dr. Strampel accomplished much in the U.S. Army Medical Corps career in many leadership roles in his 28 years of active duty. These accomplishments make me proud to have the American Osteopathic Foundation present William Strampel, DO, MACOI, with its 2016 AOF Lifetime Achievement Award.
Dr. Strampel shares this award with his wife of 49 years, Lee, who he says “is my biggest critic and best friend, who will tell me I’m full of it when I need to hear it. I get into more trouble when she’s not around.” He calls his three daughters “amazing, remarkable women—they’re what I’m most proud of in my life.”