Employee Awards and Accolades

Dr. Frank Yohe reflects on career

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

If one thing stands out with Dr. Frank Yohe, it’s his passion for his craft.

“I came to figure out my love of psychiatry,” the Stairways Meadville Outpatient clinic physician says from behind his desk.

Psychiatry, in turn, has been good to Yohe, 63, who retired Nov. 19 after practicing at Stairways’ Meadville Outpatient Clinic since 2000.

Such a union morphed into a career out of one that was already established. Working as a general family practitioner in Kittanning, Pa., Yohe got a taste of psychiatric work while attending to medical problems of individuals on inpatient psychiatric units.

“I just got more and more interested in it and decided to do a residency,” he said.

Upon completing his residency at the University of Pittsburgh in 1986, Yohe relocated to Meadville shortly after.

Since beginning his career, Yohe has witnessed the industry shift from one centered on inpatient hospitalizations as the standard to one more focused on outpatient services, such as those offered at Stairways.

“There are a lot more outpatient services as far as case management and different organizations to help the clients,” Yohe said. “Stairways has just gotten busier all the time and we’ve seen more referrals.”

In addition to his contributions at Stairways, Yohe has worked part-time at the Pennsylvania state prisons at Cambridge Springs and Albion. He also served as an instructor of pharmacology and psychiatry in the Physician Assistant Program at Gannon University for five years, an experience he enjoyed.

“Teaching always sort of keeps you young and it forces you to keep up to date on whatever you’re trying to pass on,” he said.

A large part of the job he tries to pass on is piecing together symptoms to fit the portrait of an illness—even if he doesn’t know what it’s supposed to look like.

“There’s still a lot that we don’t understand about the different illnesses that we treat,” Yohe said. “It’s tough to take people’s brains apart,” he said. “It’s tough to biopsy people’s brains to figure out what’s going on. There's certainly more research in that area, but I still think they have a long way to go."

Yohe cited, in particular, the misunderstanding that is all too often associated with mental illness as an improving but potential area of progress.

“I’d like to see the stigma gone eventually and to see us come up with more effective treatments and better testing,” he said. “There’s some hope that in the future there could be tests out there to help us make different diagnoses. That’s something that’s been totally lacking.”

Yohe noted that he does view a newfound focus on biological factors contributing to mental diagnoses—just as they are used for physical ones—as a welcome advancement.

“We think biology plays a tremendous part but we don’t know for sure,” Yohe said. “Our whole premise of biology on different illnesses like bipolar illness and depression has been predicated on the fact that medicine seemed to work.”

“If we knew exactly what was happening in the brain, why certain illnesses happen, then we might have a leg up in advising new treatments for it,” he added.

Yohe said he will be eager to await new developments in the future while he watches from afar in retirement.

As for his time away from his career, Yohe plans to catch up with his wife of 41 years, Marcia, visit his daughter, Jessica, of Maryland, and son, Chris, who resides in Pittsburgh, and satisfy another one of his passions.

“(I just) want to get caught up on all the jobs around the house so we can travel,” he said.



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