Roger Rosenblatt M.D., M.P.H., M.F.R. 1945-2014

January, 2015

Professor and Vice-Chair of Family Medicine
University of Washington School of Medicine

On December 12, 2014, Roger Rosenblatt succumbed after a long battle with cancer. He was surrounded by his family and close friends at the time of his death at home.

Roger was born in Colorado and grew up in a small community in New Hampshire. He attended Harvard for college, medical school, and for his MPH and then moved to Seattle for residency. Roger was one of the first Family Medicine residents at the University of Washington. Upon completion of his training in 1977, he became a clinical faculty member and served as the Director of Region X of the National Health Service Corps. He returned to the faculty in 1977 as an assistant professor.

He was passionate about teaching medical students and became the leader of the Family Medicine Clinical Clerkship in 1977. His experience working with medical students would span the next 37 years and would include leading the clerkship, teaching about international health systems, teaching in the Introduction to Clinical Medicine course, developing new courses on the impact of environmental change on human health, and leading, for many years, the Rural/Underserved Opportunities Program (RUOP).

Roger’s skills as a researcher, writer, and scholar were profound. He was promoted to professor in 1985 and became vice chair of the Department of Family Medicine about the same time. He participated in the authorship of almost 150 peer-reviewed articles, as well as 12 books, monographs, and book chapters. He also wrote over 60 other non-peer-reviewed articles. Although his breadth of interest was extraordinarily wide-ranging, his primary areas of focus were rural healthcare, medical education, primary care relevant research, and the impact of the environment on health. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 1987, and received many research awards including the Hames Research Award from the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine in 1996.

In addition to teaching and research, Roger was a competent and dedicated family physician. He practiced in the department’s family medicine clinic, choosing to locate his practice in the Family Medicine Clinic at Harborview Medical Center when that opportunity became available. He liked Harborview because it allowed him to focus on underserved patients.

Roger’s personal characteristics included enthusiasm, optimism, energy, and a strong commitment to mentoring others. He served his students, colleagues, and rural friends with consistent vigor and drive. His goal was to leave the world a better place, and he did. Roger was married to Fernne and had four adult children (Jon, Garth, Eli, and Ben) and three grandchildren. We will all miss his consistent smile, his willingness to help us, and his brilliance.

This obituary was written and delivered by Tom Norris from Seattle. Roger Rosenblatt was one of the first members of the WONCA Working Party on Rural Practice. John Wynn-Jones, current chair, says that Roger was one of the most energetic, dynamic and innovative people that he had ever met. His contribution to rural health in the USA was immense. His widow, Fernne, has told John that the Rosenblatt Professorship in Rural Family Medicine was established in his name at the University of Washington, which is a fitting tribute to his memory.

Roger and Fernne (pictured) were authors of a chapter of the WONCA Working Party on the Environment book, Family Doctors in the Field, published in 2014. 
see the book here.