Chaz Rodeheaver

“It’s wonderful how much you can educate patients, but even more importantly, how much you can learn from the patient. This is an overlooked and crucial aspect of healthcare. It makes you a better physician and better person.”

Clarksburg, West Virginia

Tell us more about your professional experiences. How do they relate to your graduate studies at WVU? What skillsets are you utilizing from what you learned?

From my clinical assistantship in the Human Performance Lab (HPL), to working with the Cardiac Rehab Center and as an exercise physiologist with Ruby Memorial Hospital and the United Hospital Center (UHC), I have had so many opportunities thus far in my professional career to take what I have learned from the classroom and apply that knowledge to my daily work with patients.

From the first day I stepped foot into the HPL, I did exactly that. I was able to perform body composition assessments, functional capacity tests, write exercise prescriptions for patients from various populations and dive deep into the benefits of exercise from a physiological standpoint. More importantly, I begin developing the interpersonal skillsets in working with patients. These skillsets transferred seamlessly to my work in both inpatient and outpatient cardiac and pulmonary rehab, where I performed the technical aspects like interpreting EKGs, monitoring blood pressure and other vital signs and developed both short and long-term relationships with those I treated. All of these experiences will aid me in pursuing my ultimate career goal as an orthopedic physician assistant.

Why did you choose your major program in Exercise Physiology?

I chose to pursue a degree in exercise physiology because of my interest in the human body and how it reacts to exercise. As a lifelong athlete, exercise has been a major component in my daily life, but I was always curious about how the adaptations that resulted from daily exercise came to be. By pursuing both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in exercise physiology, I was able to fill in the many gaps in my curiosity and learn many new skills and clinical applications that apply to exercise physiologists that I never knew existed. I left many of my introductory exercise physiology classes hungry to keep learning, and would spend my time after class studying more about the topic. I just couldn’t get enough of it!

The decision to continue my academic career and pursue a career as a physician assistant was the only true way that I knew to bring a sense of fulfillment to my life. Getting the opportunity to combine my passion for medicine with my love for helping the great people of West Virginia has always been a dream of mine. I look forward to expanding my knowledge through this program and use it to give back to the many people who have helped me throughout my life.

What are some of the most rewarding aspects of your academic experience? What excites you most about where you are?

My decision to attend WVU for graduate school was an extremely easy one. I consider myself to be a very family oriented individual so being able to attend a university so close to my hometown of Clarksburg was very special to me. WVU is also a very well-known institution with a very prestigious reputation and rich history of excellence and success. The opportunity to become a part of the Mountaineer family was one that I was extremely grateful to receive. Then, I extended this sense of family to the work I am doing with rehab patients. It is such a significant and impactful experience to be part of a patient’s recovery process.

What would you tell prospective students interested in pursuing a Master’s in Exercise Physiology about your experience at WVU and the School of Medicine?

One of the greatest things about pursuing a master’s in exercise physiology is that you get the chance to learn from an incredible group of faculty members. The master’s program truly allows you to take away as much knowledge and information as you wish because every professor is more than willing to go the extra mile and teach you as much as you desire. The master’s program also allows you to gain valuable clinical experience and, beyond that, connect with people within the community of Morgantown. Being in the School of Medicine puts you in a family that truly cares about one another and wants nothing but success for each other.

Have you worked with any faculty or staff members who have an impact on you while at WVU?

I cannot say enough good things about Professor Daniel Bonner. He is one of the most kindhearted and genuine people I have ever known. He took me under his wing from day one, and not only taught me in several courses, but would meet with me to discuss everything we learned outside of class. He took as much time as needed to make sure I really understood the material, but also to help me satisfy my additional curiosities about the content we were studying. Aside from being a healthcare student and future provider, he was my biggest mentor and role model as a person. He would always go above and beyond in his work with patients, and I have strived to do the same for my patients in need.

Have you received any honors or awards during your time in the School of Medicine?

As a master’s student, I was blessed enough to receive the Outstanding Master’s of Science Clinical Track Student Award. This award is given to the graduate student who best demonstrates the skills and traits involved in the practice of Clinical Exercise Physiology. This award recognizes the graduate student that displays the utmost level of compassion, caring, and dedication towards the patients they help, as well as a thorough understanding of various disease conditions in which physical activity has been shown to be of benefit. In my mind, this is an award that shows who I am as a person. It shows leadership, kindness, selflessness—going the extra mile for those in need. if I can show that in my time at WVU, I’ve not only gained the clinical knowledge to be successful, but also developed my character to become the man that I am today, I can tell you firsthand that the Master’s program was beyond worth it.

Is there anything else that you would like to share with prospective students?

Receiving the opportunity to attend WVU is truly a great honor. No matter what your major, being a part of the Mountaineer family is extremely special. Not only are you surrounded by peers and professors that care about you, but you are also a part of the community of Morgantown who view you as their own no matter where you’re from. Your time here at WVU will be challenging, full of good times and bad ones. But the knowledge that you obtain, the people that you meet, and the memories that you make are truly priceless.

Will you share something unique or interesting about you that others may not know?

I am a very family oriented individual. I come from a very large Italian family and food has always been a major part of my upbringing. Although I cannot cook very well myself, I enjoy any type of pasta dish, sausage and peppers, and tiramisu that my grandfather makes. I am a big country boy at heart. My father grew up on a dairy farm in Maryland, so the farm life was instilled in me from a young age. My family currently has a farm where we have horses and goats. I also enjoy horseback riding, four-wheeler riding, and hunting with my dad.