Being a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, James Poth ’56 might have bumped up against a few diehard Cleveland Browns fans when he was a Gilmour student, but it did not keep him from being elected senior class president. Currently a hematologist at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, California, Poth was formerly chief of staff there and directed the outpatient oncology unit. The physician claims that his interest in science was roused his sophomore year at Gilmour while studying physics. Back then, the National Honor Society student, known as “Puffer,” was a speech medalist too.
Poth earned his bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and his M.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. After his residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in hematology at Stanford University, he spent two years in the U.S. Air Force. “In those days doctors were drafted,” Poth points out. The alum was a clinical professor of medicine at Stanford until 2003.
In almost five decades in medicine, Poth has seen the field change dramatically. “The greatest challenge now is caring for patients under a profit-driven insurance system, and many times it is difficult to get the drugs and care patients need because of this problem,” he says. On the bright side, he adds, “Computer technology has made the latest advances in medicine and the information needed to treat patients as accessible as a few clicks on the keyboard.” Poth enjoys hiking, running, and water activities. He and his wife Mary Ellen returned to Gilmour in 2006 for his 50th Reunion. He expresses Gilmour’s greatest gift as learning. “Whatever task you undertake, stick with it until it is done right.”