Hello, I'm Dr. Carla Rotering
My story began inauspiciously in a small prairie village of 112 people amidst the vastness of nature and the simplicity of a close-knit community. My parents were young and poor (and the love of one another’s lives),and set about converting an abandoned railroad car into their (and my) first home. I spent the first six years of my life falling asleep to the sound of trains chugging down the tracks that ran right next to our little house. In the summer, the warm prairie breeze would blow through the windows and cracks. In the winter, my uncles would come to help my father wrap that boxcar in tar paper and stack bales of hay against it to keep the freezing North Dakota winter wind at bay. Growing up in an abandoned railroad car may seem unconventional, but it taught me resilience, resourcefulness, and an appreciation for the beauty found in the most unexpected places. I remember it as a warm, safe, loving and sweet cocoon.
Life continued to unfold and I was content as I moved into my teen-aged years. I did well in school, had a lot of friends, and by that time had been musically active since the age of 5. Even in that contentment, I also knew that there was something beyond – something I hadn’t quite yet glimpsed – that there was a larger field of possibility residing beyond my view, a barely audible call to something more and different.
All of that contentment was fractured at the age of 16 when my mother, just 35 years old, died of lung cancer leaving four children in the hands of our father who had never been a particularly talented parent. Life as I knew it dissolved under my feet, dampening my trust and faith and hope. I remember feeling utterly untethered and undirected. A year later my family would move while I, the oldest and a new high school graduate, would be left behind. I started college, quit, married the boy next door, moved to Florida where my husband went to graduate school, and had a couple of babies. Any urgency I may have experienced had to do with establishing a circle of family in which I could feel safe, anchored, tethered.
Life however took an unexpected turn, as it often does. While raising my children, I also worked for a group of pulmonary physicians and had a moment when I leaned back in my chair, looked around the space and thought to myself: “I think I can do this. In fact, I think I can do this with more heart.” I would one week later be struck by a moment of profound clarity in my mid-20s – an epiphany that set me on a path towards medical school. From that moment forward, I knew in my heart of hearts that I was meant to be a physician. Despite moving back to the prairie with my husband and children, I became determined to follow my calling. I never wavered.
I was 28, I had two little kids, I had never taken a science course in my life. I figured out how to study until the wee hours of the morning and still be okay. I had returned to North Dakota and applied to one medical school and was accepted. I applied to one internship in North Dakota and was accepted. I finished my residency training in Phoenix where I went on to complete a pulmonary fellowship. My marriage would ultimately dissolve over the first couple of years of medical. Yet those days, even with some sadness, didn’t feel hard or impossible. There is an inner stance of strength and devotion that takes hold when purpose is revealed and starts a fire in your belly!
As a single parent, I faced numerous obstacles, but I persevered, knowing that I was meant to make a difference in the world of medicine. The road was challenging, and I found myself among the few women in my medical school class and the only woman in my internal medicine residency class but I refused to be discouraged. In fact, I became the second woman to enter a prestigious pulmonary fellowship, proving that determination knows no bounds.
My commitment to medicine was steadfast, and I poured my heart and soul into my work. Eventually, I rose to become the chief of staff, a position that brought both fulfillment and burnout. It was during this challenging time that a compassionate nurse confronted me with a profound truth: I was scary – to everyone. This encounter sparked a transformative journey that would shape the rest of my life.
Searching for answers and seeking to rediscover my purpose, I embarked on a path of self-discovery and obtained a master's degree in spiritual psychology. This journey not only transformed my life but also ignited a newfound passion for investing in the well-being of the medical community as a whole.
Recognizing the immense power of coaching and personal development, I obtained certifications in coaching and began to expand my horizons beyond the confines of medicine. I co-authored a book on caring language for physicians, which aimed to revolutionize the way healthcare professionals communicate with their patients. I am honored to have been recognized for my lifelong dedication to the medical community, receiving a prestigious lifetime achievement award.
I turned my time and attention toward helping physicians grow and strive toward the best version of themselves in their professional and personal lives. As a Pulmonary and Critical Care physician myself, I have witnessed talented and dedicated colleagues get stuck in the nuances of healthcare. I have developed a deep appreciation for the role of coaching and mentoring as it contributes to evolving human potential and our shared ability to expand and grow toward collaboration, excellence, and integrity.
Over time, I found myself branching out into speaking engagements, leading destination retreats, and writing extensively on topics close to my heart. I gathered the devotion infused in healing within medicine and directed it towards people from all walks of life, offering my time and attention to anyone seeking transformation.
Perhaps the most poignant and pertinent message I could offer to my peers who step forward to do the noble work of our shared profession is this: Recognize you do not have to do this alone. You do not have to endure all those pain filled spaces and places, the fear that unexpectedly erupts during any given day, the sobering, joyful and sometimes harrowing encounters with the expanse of the human experience in isolation. We can change the quality of our days with one simple request: “Can you help me?” “Can you show me?”, “Could you be with me?”, “Could I call you?”, “Could we get a cup of coffee?”, “I don’t know how to move forward.” Recognize that we were meant to support, assist and take good care of one another.
My journey as a physician has been fulfilling on both a personal and professional level. However, the real reward lies in the lives I have touched over decades, the transformations I have witnessed, the intimate vulnerable moments shared with patients and with peers, and the relationships I have built along the way. It is my privilege to continue to be a source of service, support and inspiration to the people of Medicine
Earned medical degree from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine
Master’s degree in Spiritual Psychology with an emphasis on Consciousness, Health and Healing from the University of Santa Monica
Chief of Staff of a 1,200-member Medical Staff, Banner Thunderbird Medical Center, Phoenix
Chair, Physician Wellbeing Committee, Banner Thunderbird Medical Center
Co-Author The Language of Caring for Physicians Guide and Program implemented in medical centers of excellence across the country.
Executive Physician Coach, Language of Caring, Planetree International, Thunderbird Leadership Consulting, Private Coaching
Vice President Physician Wellness Program, Senior Executive Coach, David Couper
Awarded Healthcare Hero Lifetime Achievement Award by Phoenix Business Journal 2019
Executive Physician Coach
Are you interested in physician coaching? Curious to know how you can harness the power between the link of wellbeing and success? Just want to chat? Please connect with me.