Meet Your NEXT Primary Care Doctor
by Susan Shelly
The ability to focus entirely on the task at hand has served Elizabeth Rohde ’17 well, enabling her to excel in a variety of endeavors and activities.
Since graduating from Albright four years ago, Rohde, 26, earned a master’s degree in bioethics from Case Western Reserve University and worked for two and a half years as a plastic surgery laboratory researcher at the Cleveland Clinic, exploring methods of activating nerves in transplanted limbs.
She became certified by the National Council for Certified Personal Trainers and contributed to a significant academic research paper funded by a grant from the Department of Defense. She also has completed two years of medical school at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Achievement, Rohde explained, is all about concentration.
“Distraction is the thief of goals,” she said. “I’ve never been a balance person. I go in 100% on everything I do.”
The ability to concentrate on big goals while juggling other responsibilities enabled Rohde to gain valuable experience in the medical field while still attending Albright. Interested in working in the medical field since she was a child, she earned certification as a phlebotomy technician while in college and was employed by Penn State Health St. Joseph Medical Center as a second-shift laboratory technician for three years, advancing to lead technician.
She also served as a volunteer emergency medical technician (EMT) with several area fire and ambulance services while finding time to play first chair flute in Albright’s symphonic band and participate in women’s track and field during her freshman year.
“I focus on what I need to get done, whether it’s putting in a bunch of shifts, or getting a master’s degree or working on an academic paper,” said Rohde, who grew up in Fleetwood, Pa.
“Albright had a fantastic pre-med program that gave me a very strong science background,” Rohde said. “We got to spend a lot of time shadowing in clinical settings, and that was a very big opportunity.”
Another opportunity was participating in an Albright Creative Research Experience (ACRE), during which she acquired general laboratory skills. Partnering with Andrew Samuelsen, Ph.D., Rohde studied the impact of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) on human cell culture.
“That gave me a real advantage when I started working in the lab at Cleveland Clinic,” she said. “It helped set me up for academic research in general.”
After completing her education Rohde plans to become a family practitioner in direct primary care — a model focusing on preventive medicine in which patients pay a physician or practice a set fee for primary care services without the benefit of an insurance company. She feels her prior experiences and studies have helped prepare her for establishing and running a practice.
The studies she completed for her master’s degree equip her to address questions of medical ethics, she noted, which apply to nearly every aspect of health care. With solid foundations in clinical settings and laboratories, coupled with the experience of serving as an EMT, she feels she will be well qualified to work with patients and improve health outcomes.
She greatly values the opportunity to have been part of the Cleveland Clinic research team under the direction of Bahar Bassiri Gharb, M.D., Ph.D., an esteemed physician and teacher.
“I think all these different jobs and experiences I’ve had will help me significantly in a general practice,” she said. “And as a result, my patients will benefit as well.”