Ann and Frank Allen’s daughter Molly grew up in Westport.
“It was a fantastic childhood thanks to the close-knit community that is Waunakee and thanks to my very supportive and ever-present family,” she recalled.
Her mother is one of 11 children and her father is one of five. There were regular family events and holiday celebrations many of which were at grandma and grandpa Kennedy’s. She mused, “I struggle to think of a childhood memory that doesn’t involve my family.”
Young Molly played volleyball, basketball, and ran track. As a senior, she was the setter on Waunakee’s state champion volleyball team. In high school, she was inspired by a coach to become a physical therapist and was accepted to the Physical Therapy program at UW-Madison.
Soon after arriving on campus, she met her husband, Louis, who was pre-med.
“There was actually some overlap in pre-requisites between medical school and my physical therapy courses so I thought, ‘I think I could go to med school.’” Hinshaw went on with a tinge of wonder, “That’s how it ever became something that I thought I could do.”
After a year as a physical therapist, Hinshaw returned to UW for med school. She credits Louis for inspiring her to apply to medical school.
“I still can’t believe the difference in my life that one meeting made,” she said. She had her two children, Audrey and Louis, while she was a medical student. “They are the best thing that ever happened to us,” said their mom simply and firmly.
Hinshaw ran into a problem when she got to the end of her third year in med school. She explained, “It was time to start deciding what you want to do. And I’d liked every rotation that I’d been on. So that was a problem.”
She scanned graduate education programs alphabetically for a specialty she hadn’t tried yet. She got as far as the letter D before happening upon dermatology. She approached the chair of dermatology at UW-Madison who agreed to having her shadow him in his Portage clinic. Hinshaw described what sold her on dermatology.
“You get to take care of kids, adults, families; perform biopsies, surgeries, manage complex medical problems. It was everything rolled into one specialty. And I said, “This is what I want to do.’”
Today, Dr. Molly Hinshaw combines caring for patients, teaching, and research as Associate Professor and Chief of Dermatopathology for UW Hospital and Clinics.
In addition to her work at UW, Molly is very active in multiple professional organizations and she focuses her volunteer efforts on mentoring others. As she put it, “It’s a common thread throughout my life that I value.”
She is president-elect of the Women’s Dermatological Society. Its core mission is cultivating personal and professional development of dermatologists dedicated to excellence in patient care, mentorship, volunteerism and leadership.
She also served on the Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County which serves to match children with a caring adult mentor.
“If people are not exposed to something, they don’t even consider it a possibility. I’m very passionate about mentorship,” she said.
“I try to live my life by setting a goal, making a plan and working hard to get to that goal, trying to remember to enjoy life along the way. It’s very important. Life goes too fast.” The Hinshaws settled in Bishop’s Bay in 2006.
“We wanted to be close to family and my parents are in Westport. They were critically important to our success at every step along the way, including taking care of Audrey and Louis.”
“I love to cook and have people over. I love to entertain. We’ve had ’80s parties, Halloween parties. We’ve had poker nights, wine tastings. That’s what life is about to me – family and friends,” she added.
Hinshaw wants to keep trying to learn and evolve. Which brought up a childhood story.
In high school, she was selected to attend Badger Girls State.
“I assumed it was a sports camp. I showed up with my basketball shoes, my track shoes, my volleyball shoes, my knee pads. I was like, ‘I’m ready to go!’”
She continued, “But Badger Girls State was about teaching you about how government works. I was so shocked when I arrived. I had no idea what I had said yes to. It was hilarious and I still crack up that I assumed I knew.”
Hinshaw made it was a lesson well learned. “Now I try always to be prepared.”