I see patients in clinic 3 days per week. I round in the nursery daily as needed to see newborns. My section chair responsibilities involve numerous meetings and leadership duties. I also teach medical students and family practice residents who rotate through our clinic.
What do you enjoy about working in Duluth? What makes this region special to you?
I have lived and worked in Duluth since I completed my pediatric residency in North Carolina in 1989. I thoroughly enjoyed living in North Carolina, but I wanted to return to my Midwest roots since I grew up in North Dakota. I was drawn to Duluth and the surrounding region’s beauty and recreational opportunities. Lake Superior is the centerpiece of our landscape here and I never grow tired of seeing and enjoying this grand lake. My husband and I also own a cabin on a lake close to Ely, MN. It is a very quiet lake so it has become a sanctuary for us where I can enjoy peaceful activities like canoeing and kayaking. I am able to sit on the dock and read a book while listening to the loon’s call – quintessential Minnesota lake living.
What’s one pediatric issue you are particularly passionate about and why?
I am passionate about providing quality mental health care in the primary pediatrician’s practice. There has been an escalating need for this kind of access and care since I started my practice 27 years ago. Children and families with mental health problems and needs are apparent every day in my clinic. Early on in my practice I also did some work in assessing child sexual abuse. I am no longer on a formal evaluation team, but I continue to learn more and take an interest in child maltreatment.
You’re an active member of MNAAP. What benefits have you gained from your involvement?
I have been a member of the MNAAP board for six years prior to becoming president-elect this year. This has been an enriching experience in so many ways: gaining an understanding of policy and advocacy in the state of Minnesota, interacting with colleagues from many other clinics and health systems and participating in the process of developing priorities for the MNAAP to focus their time, talent and resources on each year. This group of diverse, intelligent individuals are unwavering in their focus on improving the lives and health of Minnesota children and families. I have also served on the mental health work group and membership and communications work group.
Are there any other organizations or initiatives you are currently involved with?
I have also been involved with the pre- professional program at the College of St. Scholastica, where dentists, physical therapists and physicians support and mentor college students who are in medical-related, pre-professional studies.
What’s one thing most people are surprised to learn about you?
I love to quilt although I still consider myself a novice. The pediatric nurse practitioners that I have worked with were my inspiration when I saw the beautiful quilts they had made. I made my very first quilt for my nephew who was born prematurely and spent quite some time in a NICU. Since then, my 3 sisters and sometimes other family members and I get together to make a quilt for each niece and nephew for their high school graduation gift. So far we have made 8 quilts. I think my quilting roots may extend back to my great grandmother Emma who hand-pieced quilts from printed flour sacks. I am in awe of this great grandmother since I learned she was widowed after my great grandfather died of small pox and left her with a farm to run and small children to raise.
What is one life lesson you’ve learned from children?
Children are resilient and each one has strengths that need our support and encouragement in the face of so much adversity in day to day life. There is a child in my practice with severe autism and seizures who sings with perfect pitch. It causes me and the clinic staff to be still and listen. We need to do more of that – be still and listen to all children.
Anything else you want to add?
My husband is a pharmacist. We met in college. I have a son who is an engineering student at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis and a daughter who will start medical school in the fall.