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Amber Gombash '15 finishing up first year of residency during a pandemic

Alumna majored in biology, was a member of Honors College

By Bob Cunningham ’18

Bowling Green State University alumna Amber Gombash ’15 is rounding out her first year of a three-year residency split between MetroHealth System Emergency Room and the Cleveland Clinic.

“I am so excited as the big July 1 date is rapidly approaching when I become a second-year resident and the new interns start,” she said in June. “I am still in the department in July, so it will be great to help teach the new interns about working in our two unique emergency departments.”

Gombash received a Bachelor of Science in biology from BGSU, minored in chemistry and was a member of the Honors College. She then when on to earn her medical degree from Ohio State University.

“During our first year, we do a lot of off service rotations — OBGYN, anesthesia, ultrasound, neuro ICU, trauma, step-down unit, etc. — so I am grateful to finally be back in the emergency department this month after four months away,” said Gombash, who grew up in Delta, Ohio, and attended Pike-Delta-York High School.

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Passing It Forward

Now, she lives in downtown Cleveland and aspires to practice emergency medicine in a community setting after she graduates in June 2022.

“I would like to work at a place with residents so that I can educate future emergency physicians,” Gombash. “I have so many great attending physicians at both hospitals that I know I want to impact future learners in the same way.”

She credits BGSU for preparing her for a career in health care, particularly in emergency medicine.

“I think my years at BGSU, I learned good communication and problem-solving skills,” Gombash said. “For the first time away from home, I learned how to be independent and how to ask for help. Learning to establish myself outside of the community I grew up in while at BGSU was essential in order to move forward to medical school and now in the hospital. BGSU was a great community of people — friends, colleagues, educators and mentors — and I think learning to identify these people in whatever setting you are in is key, because I could not have done this alone.”

"Like many honors students, Amber has always looked to find new ways to challenge herself at BGSU," said Dr. Simon Morgan-Russell, dean of Honors College. "Although she was a biology major, she chose to enroll in my Honors Shakespeare course in her senior year — a pretty risky endeavor! Amber was never interested in simply taking the path of least resistance in her academic life. I admired her for that, and I'm glad to hear that it continues to serve her well after graduation."

Gombash has two brothers who also graduated from BGSU and went into emergency medicine. Ryan Gombash '09 is an emergency physician with Emergency Physicians of Northwest Ohio at Toledo Hospital. Tyler Gombash '12 is an emergency physician with Summa Health System in Akron.

‘Diligent About Keeping Safe’

Like most health care professionals in the last few months, she’s been helping in the fight against COVID-19.

“Both of the hospitals I work at have done a great job keeping patients and employees safe with personal protective equipment and social distancing practices,” Gombash said. “While wearing masks all day at work is not the most comfortable, it keeps both patients and providers safe. Since limits have been placed on visitors, I call family members more often for more information about my patients’ health and update them on their conditions.

“I think the term ‘universal precautions’ had previously been used with blood-borne pathogens a lot, but now I assume every patient is carrying the coronavirus, and I am more diligent about keeping safe.”

Advice for Future Frontline Falcons

Gombash had some sage advice for BGSU students who are currently pursuing a career in health care.

“I would say try to shadow different professions to see what suits you best,” she said. “There are so many careers in health care. Within the emergency department, I interact with physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers, case managers, physician assistants and nurse practitioners on a daily basis. I also think finding mentors for additional advice is important, too.”

Gombash was applying to medical school about the same time that Clare Spathelf was opening the Office of Pre-Professional Programs (PPP) in Fall 2013.

"I have stayed in touch with Amber through Facebook and followed her journey since her acceptance into medical school," said Spathelf, assistant director of PPP. "She provided mentorship to our pre-med upperclassmen while advancing in Ohio State's program.

"Though students can chose from a multitude of majors to prepare for their professional programs, a degree in biological sciences can provide the necessary rigor through upper-level coursework to challenge students pursuing pre-professional tracks. Furthermore, should they choose to pursue a different path, their background in math, chemistry, and physics as well as biology will allow them that flexibility."