University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Alumni Awards Evening

Laurel M. Bear


BS Medical Science `80 from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; MD `84 from bearthe Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Practicing pediatric specialist in child development and an Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Medical College of Wisconsin.

Meet Laurel through her award spotlight video

Laurel has tirelessly dedicated herself to pediatric patients and their families, her own family, her temple, future doctors and health care professionals, her community, and complete strangers in a foreign land.

Laurel became a pediatric hospitalist before the term was even used.  This challenging role requires the ability to think quickly, critically and analytically since the doctor in this position does not have a long-term relationship with the patient and must make accurate and timely decisions about the treatment plan.  Laurel’s time as a pediatric hospitalist was at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Exposure to medically fragile babies at St. Joe’s led her to begin exploring developmental follow-up as a sub-specialty.  Her belief that early intervention, an individualized infrastructure of family support and education, and short-term or long-term follow through can alter outcomes, successfully grew with her work at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW).  At MCW she manages the NICU Developmental Follow-up Program and now runs a comprehensive multidisciplinary team.  Six years ago, the program, under Laurel’s leadership, created the Herma Heart Program.  It is the first program in the nation to focus on development follow-up for babies requiring heart surgery prior to their first birthday.  

Serving as a teacher, role model and community leader are also important components in Laurel’s life.  Aligned with her medical practice, she regularly educates residents and medical students, and lectures to local and regional physicians.  Outside of her practice, she volunteers her time and talents to the Jewish Community Center’s Steve and Shari Sadek Family Camp Interlaken, the Nicolet School District, and the Global Medical Brigade.   

2011 marked the sixth year that Laurel and her husband, also a physician, dedicated a significant amount of time and energy to Global Medical Brigade trips to Honduras.  This program develops sustainable health initiatives and provides medical services in areas of the world with limited access to healthcare. Laurels’ pediatric knowledge is invaluable in a third-world country with a relatively high infant mortality rate and a significant orphan population.  Typically, she will treat between 50 to 100 patients daily.  Remarkably, Laurel also takes the time to mentor students on the trip and has an innate ability to connect with the quieter students, drawing out their ideas and input where other busy leaders might simply overlook them.

Laurel is married to UWM Alumnus Dr. Brian Bear (BS `81), recipient of the 2011 UWM Alumni Association Citizenship Award and practicing OB/GYN, whom Laurel met while both were attending the Target MD undergraduate program at UWM.  They have three daughters; one is in medical school, the youngest in high school, and middle daughter, Samantha, is a current student at UWM.