Happiness comes from chasing her passions

Lisa Woodroffe, MD, CAQSM, enjoys helping kids and female athletes. That’s why she’s found a career that lets her do both.

Editor’s note: September is Women in Medicine Month. This is the last in a series of articles showcasing how women in UI Health Care are changing medicine, changing lives.

Lisa Woodroffe—a sports medicine physician and pediatrician—has always loved working with children, and she considered studying to become a teacher, but it was in the seventh grade that she set her dreams on becoming a pediatrician.

“I always knew it seemed a bit crazy to keep chasing the interest of my 13-year-old self,” she says. “But for me, the passion only grew over time. I believe strongly in preventative care and love the relationship you are able to build with families. Watching children grow and getting to be a small part of their lives over time, you’re able to provide a personal connection and an even higher level of care.”

A lifelong athlete, Woodroffe also had plenty of experience with sports growing up. And it was during her first year of pediatric residency, in her first elective, that she was introduced to the world of sports medicine.

“That month was an eye-opening experience and the only time I ever made changes to my career aspirations. I realized I could incorporate what had always been ‘extra-curricular’ interests into my career,” explains Woodroffe, who attended the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. “The more I became involved, the more I came to love the people and the focus on keeping patients healthy and active. I was hooked.”

Saw a need in Iowa

Woodroffe has always remained true to her Iowan roots. Born and raised in Manchester, Iowa, she came from a family embedded in the Iowa agricultural community. While she did complete her bachelor’s degrees in Biology and French at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, she was still within eyesight of the state she loves.

In medical school she chose experiences working abroad, including in West Africa, continually trying to challenge her world view and her adolescent decisions. In the end, her passions remained firm and the Hawkeye state called her home.

“My experiences abroad were invaluable and I enjoyed them greatly, but when it came to practicing medicine, there was also still such great need closer to home,” she says. “This area, these people are what I know best. I thought, ‘why would I not use my training here?’”

Leading the way

That need eventually led to the creation of the Female Athlete Program within the Department of Sports Medicine.

As the first female staff member in primary care sports medicine, Woodroffe is focused on programming specific to the care of active women.

“Women have unique needs when it comes to training, injury, and recovery,” she explains. “Through our program, we have the ability to personalize our care to meet those needs.”

While there is still a long way to go in the development of the program, Woodroffe’s commitment and dedication is clear.

“The program will allow us to connect with women through an interdisciplinary model, helping them from adolescence through pregnancy and beyond,” she says.

Her passion for children, for sports medicine, and for helping the state she loves is unwavering. Her advice to others considering a career in medicine?

“Work hard, find your passion, and chase it. You won’t regret it.”