Name: Amanda Risser, skate name Rogue One (number 4ce)
Location: Portland, Oregon
Occupation: Family Practice Physician and Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at Oregon Health and Sciences University
Growing up in Houston, Texas, Amanda Risser was more into stitches of clothes than stitching up wounds. “There was a long period of time when I wanted to open up a vintage clothing store,” she says. “I think that I imagined myself like main character in Pretty in Pink, sewing and re-fashioning vintage clothes, and the store would have been in a funky neighborhood with lots of interesting regulars.”
Her desire to design duds was overthrown by anthropology in college, where the idea of becoming an archaeologist or medical anthropologist sparked her interest. It was then that she started volunteering at the Berkley Free Clinic, which was anything but a “regular” medical volunteering job.
Family doctors really do everything, and we have an amazing opportunity to provide a continuity of care that is so valuable.
“We essentially practiced medicine within a narrow scope and the work was informed by empowerment and social justice,” she explains. “I learned basic medical interviewing and exam skills and I loved it. I did my premed classes but majored in anthropology anyways.”
After working at the clinic, Amanda dedicated herself to medicine. “When it came time to specialize, I paid attention to how I felt when I hung around folks of different specialties,” she explains. She narrowed it down to Family Practice. “Family doctors really do everything, and we have an amazing opportunity to provide a continuity of care that is so valuable. We also provide care to the most needy and marginalized. I love having such a wide scope and having so many practical doctor skills. I deliver babies and help care for folks at the end of life and everything in between. I care for entire families and have delivered some of my patients more than once. I also care for addicted to opiates by prescribing a medication called buprenorphine; it medically supports detoxification from opiates and helps to get folks stay off of heroin or pills. It’s such rewarding work.”
These days, Amanda works at OHSU, which also happens to be in the neighborhood that her family lives in. One would think that medicine and being a mom would be more than enough, but Amanda is anything but average. Beyond medicine, her passion skates a fine line between athleticism and strategy, as she’s known as Rogue One on the roller-derby team The High Rollers.
A long-time fan, after she weaned her daughter, she joined a league recreational group, and soon found herself in the tryouts for Fresh Meat. “It was pretty much like medical internship all over again,” she says. “It’s an intensive training program where you get trained up as a derby skater and then ultimately – and hopefully – get drafted onto one of our four home teams. It’s very competitive.”
Even though her league is big, and their travel team has been one of the top ten in the nation for a long time, she was able to get drafted onto The High Rollers this past November. It’s been a blast for Amanda. “There’s always something to learn, always some new skill to master, always new and exciting strategic thinking you can do,” she explains. “Plus, my teammates are all interesting, strong, funny, and awesome. We support each other on and off the track.”
The High Rollers are a local team, and Amanda takes her involvement in her community, and her interpersonal accessibility, to all levels of her life. “I’ve already made the choice to work in my neighborhood, and I run into my patients in the grocery store and at the playground, so it’s a natural thing for me to share a little bit about my life, with appropriate limitations. Derby is an activity that has so many healthy elements to it: community, volunteering for a greater good, exercise, and recreation. It’s the kind of thing I encourage my patients to do. Join a club. Make connections. Get some exercise. Learn a new skilll.” Great advice!
Amanda isn’t stopping with medicine, mommyhood, and being merciless in her derby bouts. “I’m hoping to get better at addiction medicine and do more of that in the future,” she says. “I’m going to study for the addiction specialty boards and I would ultimately like to work part time as an addictions specialist while continuing to be a family doctor.”
No matter what she tries her hand at, we’re sure she’ll succeed, and her patients, her derby fans, and her family will be right there cheering her on. For being stellar on skates, a dedicated doctor, and a total mommazon, we think Amanda Risser is one Cool Girl!