Rising Stars: Rachel Albrecht

Rachel Albrecht, administrative director of Orthopedics and Podiatry at Gundersen Lutheran Health System.

Erik Daily, River Valley Media

As a self-described “military kid,” Rachel Albrecht loved moving around.

“I never thought I’d find an organization I’d stay with as long as I have here,” Albrecht said of Gundersen Health System, where she’s the administrative director of Orthopedics and Podiatry.

In her decade at the hospital, she has had an array of jobs including, but not limited to, vision, heart and orthopaedics.

While Albrecht described her work as “high-level strategic,” she said the best overall way to understand what she does is coordinating in- and-outpatient care. But, of course, it’s even more than that.

“This means in a small way, I have contributed to saving lives through supporting staff who run our Priority One Heart Attack Program, saving people’s sight through supporting our ophthalmologists who perform thousands of eye surgeries per year, and now supporting the orthopedics department who give patients mobility that they thought they may never have again,” she said.

Her latest position is about learning a new element of health care, as well as expanding her horizons, something she’s quite literally done as a lead in Gundersen’s Global Partners program in Nicaragua. She has made at least a dozen trips to Central America since 2010, helping to educate, as well as foster partnerships, sustainability and volunteerism.

“That doesn’t always mean health care,” she said.

Sometimes it means helping to create mobile libraries, or provide clean water, even eye exams.

“The world is what we make it,” Albrecht said, “and that’s up to us.”

It’s that sense of global recognition that earned the admiration of Kraig Schuster, who nominated Albrecht for Rising Stars Under 40.

“Even though she has succeeded in her role as administrative director at Gundersen,” Schuster said, “she has also been active in the world around her. Currently she serves as an adjunct faculty member at Viterbo University, where she teaches coursework in Healthcare Management and in the past has taught at Saint Mary’s University, as well.”

He cited Albrecht’s ability to steer the team for Global Partners Nicaragua, which sets the direction of the program to ensure its alignment of work, and noted that since 2013, she’s also been the vision lead for the program.

“She has provided administrative direction, including organizing the trips and managing both fundraising and volunteerism,” Schuster said. “In her time in those roles, she has led/co-led over 10 trips since the project started in 2010. She looks forward to helping out more.”

He called her a wonderful asset, not just to Gundersen, but to the entire community.

For Albrecht, it’s about sharing the many blessings she feels she’s been given in her life, in particular the support and sacrifices of her husband, Andy. Those blessings are interwoven into an even larger motivation and purpose.

“I see others around me offering of themselves and it really just makes me want to do more and give more because I’ve been given so much by others,” she said. “I want this world to be a better place for my daughter, and I want to set the example for my daughter so that one day, she can be even better; more compassionate, stronger, more generous and wiser than I am and so she can give back even more than I am able to.”

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