Dr. Rhonda Dodge can pinpoint two moments that changed the course of her professional career.
The first happened when she was almost 10 years old. Her youngest sister, Sarah, came down with a serious infection and had to be transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (nicu) at Blank Children’s Hospital. One of the doctors took the time to explain to Dodge what was happening to Sarah — a memory that stuck with her.
“From that moment, I knew I wanted to be a pediatrician,” said Dodge, who is now medical director of the inpatient unit at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines, caring for admitted patients up to age 21.
The second happened several years later, during her senior year of high school, when she visited her friend’s sister at Simpson. She had already decided to attend another college, but after spending the weekend at Simpson, she knew it was the place she needed to be.
Though she had good grades and a good MCAT score, Dodge believes she wouldn’t have been accepted to the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine without the opportunities she had for leadership and service while at Simpson. It was during college that she first returned to Blank Children’s Hospital as a volunteer.
“I think my whole life would have been different if I hadn’t gone to Simpson,” she said.
Dodge encountered professors, particularly Patricia Singer and Joe K. Moody, who would provide important support for her ambitions. Moody also served as an inspiration for what she wanted in a future career.
“He was just one of those people who had such a passion about what he did,” she said. “I knew I wanted a career where I was just as passionate and loved what I was doing.”
Dodge, who was involved in Religious Life while at Simpson, said the college’s former chaplain, Mike Morgan, also served as a role model. Morgan “had a way of connecting with people and making them feel like they mattered,” and Dodge tries to use that same style when working with parents and their children at the hospital.
Dodge loves her job because children “have this unbelievably positive outlook on the world,” and her enthusiasm for her work has inspired those around her. Last year, Blank’s residents recognized her as the doctor who had the most influence on them during their residencies.