Alumni Feature: Dr. Elizabeth D. Allen

In the mid 1980’s, when Elizabeth Allen, MD first came to what was then called Columbus Children’s Hospital, she was an Ohio State University medical student undergoing her rotations. She knew then that she wanted to stay. “I loved my rotations here.  Plus my husband had already started his internal medicine residency at The Ohio State University and I really wanted to stay in Columbus,” says Dr. Allen.  And so she stayed to complete her residency and fellowship training.

Dr. Allen shares that during her training at Nationwide Children’s, she had a steady stream of great clinician mentors. Her hope is that she has been able to emulate their thoughtful approach to patient care and their willingness to take time out to teach those around them. She is grateful for the time she was able to spend with Dr. Grant Morrow during her year as a chief resident and how the experience opened her eyes to the importance and impact of physician leaders.

When asked to describe one of her most memorable experiences during her training, Dr. Allen responded, “Flying in a medical helicopter with Dr. McCoy and a cystic fibrosis patient who was having intermittent bouts of large volume hemoptysis. We were bound for Cleveland and the cutting-edge procedure of bronchial artery embolization. The patient did well – and it was so cool to see the at-dusk Columbus skyline from the chopper on the return flight!” And Dr. Allen’s career has been taking flight ever since.

After completing her residency and chief residency training, Dr. Allen remained at Nationwide Children's Hospital as the first-ever pulmonary fellow. She shares that she nearly took on the additional load of a critical care fellowship, but instead she joined the hospital’s Pulmonary Division.  Her days became increasingly busy as her professional life took a “decidedly outpatient-heavy turn” while, at the same time, in her personal life, she was raising four children.  Following a stint as the Associate Director, Dr. Allen became the Pulmonary Fellowship Director in 2007. “It was an honor and source of pride to help the program grow and graduate an outstanding group of newly-minted Pediatric Pulmonologists over the next 11+ years,” she shares.

In 2011, Dr. Allen was invited to help lead Nationwide Children’s Asthma QI program. “In the process, I was bitten by the QI bug – such a logical approach to ensuring we practice the very best known clinical care while the visionaries figure out what’s next,” says Dr. Allen. Recently, she took on the role of medical director for quality at the hospital. “A very exciting opportunity which will allow me to work with, and learn from, some of the best QI folks in the nation,” she adds.

As to the mentors and residency and fellowship peers from her training days, Dr. Allen shares that “Nationwide Children’s has an interesting habit of keeping its grads here – a 'symptom' of its rapid growth and also the fact that so many like it here.  As a result, I’ve been fortunate to collaborate, particularly on clinical and educational efforts, with quite a few of my training peers.  It’s always a pleasant surprise when the PTCT call turns out to be from a doctor you took call with back in the day!”

Speaking of “back in the day,” if the Dr. Allen of today could talk to the Dr. Allen back then, she would say, “It’s good to make plans – but know that life will disrupt them, new opportunities will emerge, and in the end, it will be a great ride.  Don’t be afraid to try new things and keep learning.  There are many interesting paths to take during a medical career!”