Call of the Valley: Rochelle Broome on family practice, music, being Native American
There are at least three primary facets in Rochelle Broome’s life: family practice, singing and embodying her Native American spiritual roots.
“However, my heritage wasn’t something that was talked about in my household growing up in northeast Ohio," Broome said. "It was mostly the pictures and the faces and the disclosure who these relatives were that gave me my first inklings. It wasn’t until my 20s that I realized my outlook on life and people truly stemmed from Native American culture and the way they think about things. I valued the earth and wanted to be a steward and protect it. It was always inside me but I finally knew where it came from.”
Early on, Broome had her sights set on becoming a physician. Her mother was a nurse and her dad was a laborer, working in the steel mills, who taught her about perseverance and self-reliance. He told her she could do anything she set her mind to, to try, to tinker until she could take something apart and put it back together until it worked.
A key operative word continued to be service, to her family, her community, the needy, the suffering and what have you.
“In a sense, I wanted to be ready for anything," Broome said. "In the car, 9 years old, my dad driving, I am watching all the signposts, all the roads because mom doesn’t drive and if Daddy gets sick or has a heart attack, I’ve got to get the family back home. I was put here to not only be of service but to always be thinking about what’s next — where am I going and how am I going to get there?”
Broome also enjoyed singing around the house. Her parents gave her a guitar when she was about 11 because she just seemed to have this natural talent and soon sang her teenage blues away in her room. Later, she became an integral part of a trio performing at Kent State University.
She started her path to being a physician as an assistant at a nursing home where her mother was an RN. Her nickname around the house was Boss, and it was self-evident she had to be in charge, go on to become a doctor who handled everything and everyone as a family practitioner (“from the cradle to the grave”), beginning with her residency in Canton, Ohio.
She went on to work in an office seeing out-patients, issuing referrals, making visitations to the hospital — whatever the individual needs and circumstances called for. She did this for a number of years in Ohio, adding teaching doctors to be better doctors to her repertoire. Broome then did a stint in San Diego teaching residents, went on to Nashville returning to family practice, and finally settled in Black Mountain just a few years ago.
Sheri Kay, her partner’s sister and family, live here. And though she’s always thought of herself as “an ocean girl,” she became drawn to the mountains and our total access to nature.
“What sealed it for us, was the moment we were walking across the street from the health food store to go over to Louise’s Kitchen when cars coming from both directions stopped so that we could safely cross," Broome said. "This is what the people are like in this town and we are definitely moving here.”
Broome continues to conduct Native American ceremonies in her home, adding to the reason this setting is so important to her. She also discovered the Unitarian Universalist church was a welcoming congregation for people who walk different paths. The opening ceremony acknowledges that “the land we’re on is the ancestral home of indigenous people, through stewardship and conservation survived and thrive in this land, and we honor their enduring connection to their homeland.”
The church greatly expanded her sense of community, and Broome now gets to sing both as a member of the choir and a soloist during special services.