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A Conversation With: Angela RowePresident, Pennsylvania Orthopedic Society

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Angela Rowe, president, Pennsylvania Orthopedic Society
Angela Rowe, president, Pennsylvania Orthopedic Society - (Photo / )

Dr. Angela Rowe, 53, was named president of the Pennsylvania Orthopedic Society in October 2017.

She is an orthopedic surgeon practicing with Altoona-based University Orthopedics Center, the only female practicing surgeon in Blair County.

Rowe earned a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from the University of Pittsburgh and a doctor of osteopathy degree from Midwestern University, where she was the first female orthopedic surgery resident. She also earned an MBA in health care management from Widener University.

A native of Hong Kong, Rowe resides in Hollidaysburg with her husband of 28 years and their son.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish during your term as president of the Pennsylvania Orthopedic Society?

A: Most folks would be surprised to know physicians face many challenges in the current health care environment. Both patient care and practice concerns dominate our society’s agenda. Bending the curve of the opioid addiction crisis is my primary objective for the POS. We are diligently working for enactment of H.B. 353, our e-prescribing initiative sponsored by Rep. Tedd Nesbit (R-Mercer/Butler) and state Sen. Richard Alloway (R-Adams/Franklin/York). This vital legislation will do more to stop drug diversion than any other bill currently under consideration in the General Assembly.

In addition, our society is working to level the playing field between physicians and insurance companies. Insurers do not provide health care, physicians do. We are making progress, but the insurers have an incredible amount of money to spend on political giving.

You are the first woman to serve as president of POS and this is not the first time you are the first women to reach certain milestones in your field. What does it take to be a leader in this male-dominated field?

Be yourself and do what you believe is right and true. To gain the respect of male colleagues, it is important for women to not pretend to be men. We bring different skills, attitudes and viewpoints to work. By being true to yourself, your genuine qualities emerge. Respect then follows.

I was introduced as POS president by my colleague, former president Pat Smith, in this way: “In our more than 60 years of existence, POS has never been led by a woman orthopedic surgeon, even though we have had many qualified and able female board members. Angela is shattering our own glass ceiling and is leading the way to a new future for POS.” I believe my colleagues in POS and my practice recognize the value I bring to both.

What made you choose to become an orthopedic surgeon?

When I was little, I wanted to be a police officer because I wanted to help people. My mom thought it was too dangerous, so she talked me out of it. Then I realized that I could be an orthopedic surgeon and help patients return to their lifestyle.

Many people told me that I couldn’t become a surgeon because I wasn’t strong enough, but I proved them wrong. I like working with my hands, I like using power tools and I am good at putting things back together.

Where is the most interesting place you’ve been on vacation?

I was invited to Florence, Italy in 2016 for one of our clinical trial studies. The study was on a new medication for arthritis, and as the principal investigator I was invited to go and we had a great time.

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