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Career Profiles
Elizabeth Imboden
Graduated: 1990
Major: Biology
General Pediatrician, York Pediatrics

Elizabeth Imboden with a patientChoosing a Major
Desiring to cultivate her blossoming interest in the sciences, Elizabeth did not hesitate to declare a major in biology at the start of her student career at Messiah. Reflecting on the career paths available through this field, she at first seriously considered a vocation in medical technology, but the prospect of spending her days sequestered in a lab seemed bleak. Prompted by interaction and friendship with pre-med majors, Elizabeth began to research medical schools. Although she never declared a pre-med major at Messiah, she decided to become a doctor to fuse her interest in science with a strong desire to interact with others on a personal level.

The Messiah Experience
In the midst of classes and academic work, Elizabeth managed to find time to devote to various activities, both on and off campus, that reflected her personal interests. As a member of the Med Aware Club, she had the opportunity to both socialize with other students focused on a career in medicine and learn more about the medical profession. She spent the summer months of her junior and senior year involved in research projects at Hershey Medical Center, and during the school year she worked at the nearby Messiah Village retirement community in food services as a dietary assistant.

Elizabeth was also actively engaged in student life on campus as a member of the Judicial Council, now known as the Peer Review Board, and through her involvement with an environmental-awareness group that raised consciousness of environmental issues through recycling and clean-up projects. As a peer group leader, Elizabeth seized the chance to impact the lives of first year students during their first crucial weeks of classes.

Another important aspect of Elizabeth's Messiah experience centers is the lasting friendships that have endured and developed through her post-collegiate life: "I've formed some very important friendships that have continued to be supportive throughout the difficult process of medical school--reinforcing faith and belief systems to keep me guided through this and to see the importance of what I do and not just to make money."

Elizabeth believes that she still reaps the benefits of the skills she developed on campus as an undergraduate. Though students are sometimes tempted to view general education classes as superfluous, she believes that these classes forced her to "learn how to organize time and activities." Constant interaction with students and professors who represented a myriad of personalities and temperaments has allowed Elizabeth to "learn how to deal with people and differences, [which] is helpful when dealing with patients and parents." She also values the foundational scientific knowledge base she accrued at Messiah before medical school: "Basic science was beneficial for doing well in medical school, which is information I use in my practice."

What to Do Next
Elizabeth explains that the medical career path does not leave much room for indecision after college, for the required steps for entering the field of medicine - taking the MCATS, deciding on medical school, applying for financial aid, etc. - are organized in a tight schedule. She took the MCATS during the fall of her senior year at Messiah and applied and interviewed for medical schools before she graduated. During the summer after graduation, she applied for financial aid, and she started at the Penn State School of Medicine in the fall. "The first two years of medical school are basic science training, and the remaining two years are in the field getting clinical experience," she explains.

Dynamic Process
Elizabeth completed her "specialty training in pediatrics," or residency, at Geisinger. Her residency fueled her growing interest in pediatric medicine, and after three years she learned through a pharmeceutical representative of an employment opportunity at York Pediatrics. Thrilled to be working near her hometown of Mechanicsburg, she accepted a position as general pediatrician at York.


• "Go out and see what the actual profession involves, no matter what your interest. . . take the chance to explore the field, and talk to people to get information."
• " If you really think there’s something you want to do, then go for it. Don’t give in to discouragement. Don’t limit yourself by what you're afraid of."

A Typical Day
York Pediatrics is an office-based pediatric practice in which Elizabeth sees patients "from birth to age 21." A typical day for her "is a mix of sick and well kids: well visits, health maintenance, preventative care, immunizations, and sick visits." With such a variety of cases she may, on any given day, deal with "anything from a cold, to asthma, to behavioral problems such as ADHD." York Pediatrics is also connected to York Hospital; the eight doctors at her practice rotate shifts at the hospital where they examine newborns and care for any hospitalized patients.

A "Why" Moment
Elizabeth remembers one particular incident that affirmed her choice of vocation. Two years after she started at York Pediatrics, she had a very ill child in her care. Her examination revealed that the patient was suffering from meningitis. "I was able to diagnose it and get him treatment quickly, which probably saved his life. It made me feel like I was in the right place."

Moments like this are a significant aspect of her experience at York Pediatrics. "When you've seen a child in the hospital when they were born and now they're 7, it is exciting to have helped bring them through their first years," she says with conviction. "When parents are thankful for the care you give their child, it makes you feel like this is why you're doing what you're doing."

In her efforts to serve God and others through her career, Elizabeth says she is just "trying to be a light.  I might be the only person they see that has some kind of faith."  She believes that her life and her actions can be a testament to the Christian faith: "[I am] trying to be patient and loving in situations where I might be frustrated. Christ was a Great Physician. My role of caring for others is a way to show Christ's love to other people."

Dreams Still Dreaming
"In the future I may be interested in doing more work with the underserved population," Elizabeth explains. Currently, attempting to master the delicate balance between her part-time career and a role as wife and mother leaves her time and energy are sapped. When her children are enrolled in school, she plans to continue part-time at her office and boost her involvement with a clinic at York Hospital.


Find out how other Messiah grads work with children in their career:

Kate Binder, social worker

Malia Meiser, abstinence education director

Katie Lebhar, high school theatre director

Karen Willis, pediatric research dietician

Profile by Brianna Davidson, August 2005


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