My philosophy is that short-term medical mission teams make a difference, and I have chosen to concentrate my efforts in sustainable relationship-building to work together to solve problems. This collaborative supportive structure with local surgeon champions is what I see as the future of Global Surgery.
After graduating with honors from the University of Kansas School of Medicine, Dr. Tollefson continued at KU for his residency training in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery . He then completed further specialty training in Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery with his fellowship at the nationally ranked UC Davis Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery department. ( U.S. News and World Report).
Dr. Tollefson is a double-board certified surgeon by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon and the American Board of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery , and a Fellow in the American College of Surgeons. As Professor and Director of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery at UC Davis, he shares responsibility for teaching medical students, residents, and fellows, guiding research teams, and leading faculty education programs. As Director of Mentorship, he uses educational and feedback principles that he acquired when he completed a Masters in Public Health at Harvard . He enjoys teaching and collaboration with other surgeons globally, with current projects in Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Cambodia, China, and Haiti and heads educational efforts for the craniomaxiliofacial (CMF) division of AO Alliance in resource-limited countries.
Dr. Tollefson has published over 100 research papers and serves on the editorial board of the esteemed journal JAMA-Facial Plastic Surgery. His research interests focus on quality of life improvement for patients needing facial plastic and reconstructive surgery. As a Northern Californian, he recognized the need to reduce barriers to care for Spanish-speaking families. He led a team to validate a VELO-Spanish quality of life instrument for children with difficulties with speech after cleft palate surgery. Versions of this validated questionnaire are now being used in the US, Central and South America to better capture the effects of velopharyngeal dysfunction on children and their parents.
Dr. Tollefson is honored to serve on the Board of Directors for the American Board of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery, the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Education Board of AO North America, and has served in the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association and Triological Society.
For the last 15 years, Dr. Tollefson has actively volunteered to improve surgical access and safety in low and middle income countries for children and adults. This work in Global Surgery stretches outside the typical “mission” approach with the goal of contributing to lasting change in resource-limited environments.
Dr Tollefson works with a number of humanitarian organizations and has acted as a consultant for Doctors without Borders He has taught and performed surgery on five continents and feels that his efforts will be judged by the remarkable surgeons that he has been fortunate to mentor and support.