Dr. Rodney Finds Her Passion in Patient Care and Piano

Mar 29 2023

Denise Rodney, MD, family medicine, originally thought she was going to be a medical researcher. 

“As a student, I worked on research projects at the National Institutes of Health, Duke University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory – I even helped map a small part of the human genome,” she recalls. “I then completed a year of PhD work in neuroscience at the Ohio State University, where I had classes with medical students. I realized then that their curriculum was much more interesting than mine.”

With the support and encouragement of her parents, Dr. Rodney decided to pursue her medical degree, attending Howard University College of Medicine.

When she first started out, she says that she was initially nervous to provide patient care.

“My very first patient as a student was hospitalized with a severe gout flare in his foot,” she says. “I was so nervous that I stepped on his foot. And he told me not to be so nervous!”

Dr. Rodney soon found that her passion and strength lies in family medicine and joined our ministry in December of 2011. She currently practices at Mercy Health — South Limestone Family Medicine.

When asked about what she finds most rewarding about her work, Dr. Rodney says that she enjoys being able to provide care to her patients.

“Preventive care is really satisfying,” she says. “Many patients come to me with unbelievable gaps in care, and I’m able to convince them to get the care they need. There’s a lot of work to do for our patients who are adversely affected by disparities in health care.”

Most days after she leaves the office, Dr. Rodney likes to do strength training and cardio exercises.

“Exercising after work allows me to unwind after a busy day of seeing my patients,” she explains. “I see a lot of patients with chronic diseases, and many of these diseases are related to lifestyle. Going to the gym not only reduces my own risk of illness but also helps me to be a positive role model for my patients and lead by example.”

Dr. Rodney also enjoys playing the piano in her spare time.

“’Für Elise’ by Ludwig van Beethoven is one of my favorites,” she says. “This was the last piece I worked on before quitting piano at age 12. I started playing again about eight years ago as a reward to myself after passing my board re-certification exam.”

National Doctors’ Day is coming up on March 30! Read more stories celebrating our physicians.

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