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Women to Watch: Monica Rho

Our Women to Watch series has shined a spotlight on groundbreaking female leaders of many industries. These thought leaders and innovators have made a lasting impact in the world. This month, we’re focusing on Monica Rho, MD.
Monica Rho is the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team physician. She also is the Chief of Musculoskeletal Medicine and Director of Residency Training and Director of Women’s Sports Medicine at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. Additionally, she serves as an Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

Monica Rho’ Beginnings

Rho was interested in sports from an early age, playing on a co-ed soccer team in grade and middle school.
“You don’t forget that feeling as you grow up. It gives you the confidence to know that if you work hard and do your best, your gender does not have to limit you,” said Rho. “It’s amazing to think that soccer at a young age gave me that perspective of the world. Seems like things have come a bit full circle for me and soccer.”
When it came to her education, Rho earned her BA in Psychology from Northwestern University and her MD from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. She then continued on to complete her internship at Northwestern University’s McGaw Medical Center, Her residency in PM&R at Northwestern University’s McGaw Medical Center at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and her fellowship in Sport​​s Medicine and Interventional Spine at Washington University School of Medicine.
She is also board certified in both Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine.

Achievements on the Field and in the Classroom

In 2016, Rho joined the U.S. Men’s Paralympic Team as their lead physician in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. A year later, Rho was offered her current position with the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team. The team went on to win its fourth title in 2019.
“I’ve always had a dream of working with female athletes, because it was a group that I thought was overlooked by medicine when I was growing up,” said Rho when asked how she feels about working with the U.S. Women’s soccer team. “I wanted to make sure that any talent and experience that I gained as a physician could go to support those who have traditionally been underserved.”
While Rho has been recognized for her amazing work on the field, she’s also scored some accolades in the classroom! Rho has received the following awards:
  • Outstanding Teacher of the Year, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (2012, 2014)
  • Mentor of the Year, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (2013, 2015, 2016)
  • Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Best Teachers at Feinberg Award (2015)
  • Feinberg Academy of Medical Educators Outstanding Teacher Award (2016)
  • Crain’s Chicago Business’ 40 Under 40 (2019)
“The opportunity to work with the most elite female athletes in the world is something that I do not take lightly and never take for granted. I am lucky to have this opportunity and I feel grateful every time I step on the field with them,” said Rho.

More Women to Watch

Monica Rho is the perfect example of women uplifting and supporting other women. We’re so excited to see what other achievements Rho has in her future. In the meantime, read up on our other Women to Watch, such as U.S. Olympic gymnast Simone Biles and CEO Nancy Aossey.
Plus, check out Hope Smith — the devoted mother, wife, former model, and Founder and CEO of luxury skincare brand MUTHA™. Hope drives others to uplift and provide opportunities to women.