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Gigi Chawla, MD, FAAP, spoke with the Star Tribune about the ways in which Children’s Minnesota is adapting patient visits at its clinic locations in order to provide care to children during the pandemic.

Abe Jacob, MD, FAAP, M Health Fairview chief quality officer, spoke with KARE11 about the importance of mask compliance.

Ruth Lynfield, MD, FAAP, participated in a webinar hosted by Children’s Health Network exploring epidemiological and policy considerations of COVID-19. MNAAP Executive Director Melissa DeBilzan and Lobbyist Eric Dick also participated.

Gigi Chawla, MD, MHA, FAAP, was a guest on WCCO Mid-Morning where she discussed an inflammatory condition being seen in children with COVID-19, as well as the profound impact reading has on children’s development.

Malini DeSilva, MD, FAAP, spoke with the Star TribuneSt. Paul Pioneer Press, and MinnPost about the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) that indicated a drop in childhood vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic, which Dr. DeSilva co-authored.

Madeleine Gagnon, MD, FAAP, spoke with Fox9 about the rare inflammatory condition being seen in children with COVID-19.

Dawn Martin, MD, FAAP, spoke to the Star Tribune about the importance of childhood vaccinations and well child visits during the pandemic.

Andrew Olson, MD, FAAP, FACP, was quoted in a Star Tribune in an article about COVID-19 preparations and hospital discharges.

Mark Schleiss, MD, FAAP, spoke with KCBS Radio about a rare inflammatory condition being seen in children who test positive for COVID-19.

Krishnan Subrahmanian, MD, FAAP, spoke with KARE11 about the importance of rituals and resilience to help kids’ mental health during COVID-19.

MNAAP President-elect Sheldon Berkowitz, MD, FAAP, co-authored the piece “Transitioning Patients With Complex Health Care Needs to Adult Practices: Theory Versus Reality” which has been published online and will appear in the June issue of Pediatrics. Dr. Berkowitz was also published in Minnesota Physician with his article calling for prior authorization reform.

Nathan Chomilo, MD, FAAP, and Malini DeSilva, MD, FAAP, co-authored an article on racial equity in COVID-19 policy that was published on the Health Affairs blog. Dr. Chomilo also spoke with KARE11 about the importance of well child visits and immunizations during the pandemic, and the New York Times about the possible effects of the pandemic on vulnerable populations.

Hannah Lichstinn, MD, FAAP, created a YouTube series called “COVID Corner with Dr. Hannah” to answer questions about coronavirus from students at her daughter’s elementary school.

Claudia Fox, MD, MPH, FAAP, DABOM was elected to the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Obesity Executive Committee. Her term will start on November 1, 2020.  Please reach out to her via email at if you have issues related to childhood obesity that you would like to be addressed.

Julia Joseph-DiCaprio, MD, MPH, FAAP, was featured a recent Star Tribune article for her work at the Elim Church shelter to screen residents for the COVID-19 virus. You can read the article here.

Jessica Hane, MD, was named the recipient of the 2020 Walter Tunnessen Award from Medicine-Pediatrics Program Directors Association (MPPDA).

Holly Belgum, MD, wrote a children’s book to kids better understand quarantine and social distancing.

Abraham Jacob, MD, FAAP, M Health Fairview’s chief quality officer, was recently interviewed in the Star Tribune about hospital use of ultraviolet decontamination with N95 masks. Read the article here.

Pamela Gigi Chawla, MD, MHA, FAAP, has been named the new medical director of Reach Out and Read Minnesota. Dr. Chawla is currently the chief of general pediatrics at Children’s Minnesota and is a MNAAP board member. You can read more about her role with Reach Out and Read here.

MNAAP members offered their expertise and insight to the Star Tribune Magazine for the publication’s quarterly “Afraid to Ask” article. The spring article focused specifically on common questions parents and caregivers have about newborns and babies. You can see their answers here.

Several MNAAP members named 2020 Rising Stars by Mpls St.Paul magazine. According to the magazine, physicians who make the list are emerging leaders who have been recognized by peers for significant achievements in the first decade of their profession.

Janna R. Gewirtz O’Brien, MD, FAAP, and Andrew J. Barnes, MD, FAAP and collaborators published “Mental Health Outcomes Among Homeless, Runaway, and Stably Housed Youth,” in the April 2020 issue of Pediatrics.

Andrew Kiragu, MD, FAAP, past president of MNAAP, has been recognized as a fellow in the Society of Critical Care Medicine’s (SCCM) American College of Critical Care Medicine (ACCM). Fellowship recognizes individuals who have demonstrated significant contributions and have made an impact in the critical care profession at a regional, state, or national level.

The work of Emily Borman-Shoap, MD, FAAP, at the University of Minnesota to help train pediatric residents to better handle mental health issues was profiled in the American Board of Pediatrics’ annual report.

Rachel Tellez, MD, FAAP, was named March 2020 Advocacy Champion by the Minnesota Medical Association. Dr. Tellez was also recently interviewed by KARE11 to answer questions about the Coronavirus. You can see the interview here

Robert Jacobson, MD, FAAP, and Mark Schleiss, MD, FAAP, were recently quoted in a Minnesota Reformer article that shines a spotlight on the connection anti-vaccination advocates have with Minnesota legislators.

Marc Gorelick, MD, MSCE, FAAP, president and CEO of Children’s Minnesota, participated in a panel discussion hosted by Minneapolis/St.Paul Business Journal  to discuss what the future may bring to the health care industry in 2020.

Diana Cutts, MD, FAAP, has been appointed Chair of Pediatrics at Hennepin Healthcare. Dr. Cutts served as interim chair since 2018.

Janna Gewirtz O’Brien, MD, FAAP, was published with collaborators on the new AAP report “Runaway Youth: Caring for the Nation’s Largest Segment of Missing Children” in the January 2020 issue of Pediatrics.

Nathan Chomilo, MD, FAAP, has been named as the state of Minnesota’s new Medicaid medical director. 

Andrea Singh, MD, FAAP, has been selected to serve on the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet Advisory Council.

Nathan Chomilo, MD, FAAP, authored an opinion piece in the MinnPost: “Educational disparities: The gap we need to address is the opportunity gap.”

Angela Mattke, MD, FAAP, and Valeria Cristiani, MD, FAAP, answered questions about the importance of well-child appointments through a Facebook Live video Q&A hosted by the Mayo Clinic.

Brian Lynch, MD, FAAP, discussed the science of toxic stress and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) on children on the podcast “Terrible, Thanks for Asking.” The podcast episode titled “What Happened to You” is available in three parts: Part 1Part 2, and Part 3 The episode was produced with Call to Mind, American Public Media’s initiative to foster new conversations about mental health.

Angela Goepferd, MD, FAAP, and Valeria Cristiani, MD, FAAP, have each received a Special Achievement Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Goepferd was recognized for her leadership in professional training and support for LGBTQ and questioning youth in Minnesota. Dr. Cristiani was honored for her drive to start a school-based health clinic at the Rochester Alternative Learning Center.

Kelly Bergmann, MD, FAAP, collaborated with colleagues on an article recently published in the AAP’s Hospital Pediatrics journal. The article was titled, “Identifying Patients With Kawasaki Disease Safe for Early Discharge: Development of a Risk Prediction Model at a US Children’s Hospital.”

Two MNAAP members were honored recently by the American Academy of Pediatrics with awards marking their dedication to the health of children:

Cynthia R. Howard, MD, MPH, FAAP, received the Hillman-Olness Award for Lifetime Service and Lasting Contributions to Global Child Health. Dr. Howard is an associate professor in pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

Dana E. Johnson, MD, PhD, FAAP, received the Thomas F. Tonniges, MD, FAAP, Lifetime Achievement Award for Advocacy on Behalf of Vulnerable Children. Dr. Johnson is a professor of pediatrics in the Division of Neonatology at the University of Minnesota Medical Center – Fairview.

Thomas Schrup, MD, FAAP, was named as a 2019 Community Caregiver by Minnesota Physician medical business journal. Dr. Schrup received the recognition for his volunteer work providing critical wellness visits and consults to homeless youth in St. Cloud.

Anne Griffiths, MD, FAAP, a pediatric pulmonologist with Children’s Minnesota, participated in the webinar Update on Severe Lung Injury Associated with Vaping, Clinical Issues and Epidemiology in Minnesota. The webinar was co-hosted by the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Hospital Association. The webinar recording is available here.

Emily Chapman, MD, FAAP, was a guest on the Sept. 18th Dr. Oz Show, discussing recent lung injuries related to vaping. Dr. Chapman is the chief medical officer at Children’s Minnesota, where several teens have been treated for vaping-related lung injury.

Dick Wicklund, MD, FAAP; Beatrice Murray, MD, FAAP; Paula Mackey, MD, FAAP; Linda Thompson, MD, FAAP; Ted Jewett, MD, FAAP; Mike Severson, MD, FAAP; Carolyn Levitt, MD. FAAP; and Kristin Benson, MD, FAAP joined Dan Broughton, MD, FAAP for the September Senior Pediatrician Lunch.

Angela Kade Goepferd, MD, FAAP, joined MPR News host Angela Davis to discuss talking with children about gender and how to create an inclusive environment for all students at school. You can hear their conversation here.

Emily Borman-Shoap, MD, FAAP; Jessica Hane, MD; Erin McHugh, MD; and Heidi Moline, MD, authored a Readers Write article in the Star Tribune that detailed the risks of vaping for adolescents and called for legislation to regulate vaping and e-cigarettes.

Nathan Chomilo, MD, FAAP, was interviewed by MPR News about the importance of unstructured play in child development.

Nusheen Ameenuddin, MD, FAAP; Robert Jacobson, MD, FAAP; and Angela Mattke, MD, FAAP, met with Surgeon General of the United State Jerome Adams during his visit to the Mayo Clinic on Aug. 27. The MNAAP members discussed immunization efforts with the surgeon general in a meeting organized and hosted by the Zumbro Valley Medical Society.

Katy Miller, MD, FAAP,  and Calla Brown, MD, FAAP, along with their team members Maura Shramko PhD and Maria Veronica Svetaz, MD (principal investigator), were recently awarded the Joanna Simer Research Fellowship Grant for their project “Latinx Youth Perspectives of Immigrant Policy Context, Deportation, and Family Resilience Processes: A Qualitative Exploration of Healthy Youth Development in Anti-Immigrant Contexts.” The team recently published a review of trauma-informed care for refugee and immigrant youth.

Nathan Chomilo, MD. FAAP, offered KARE 11 insight into childhood imaginary friends after a UK report noted a decrease in the prevalence of imaginary friends among children, citing screens as a possible reason.

Marjorie Hogan, MD, FAAP, co-wrote the book Terrific Toddlers! Simple Solutions, Practical Parenting. The book is a resource for parents navigating the toddler years.

Emily Chapman, MD, FAAP, chief medical officer at Children’s Minnesota, and Ruth Lynfield, MD, FAAP, state epidemiologist, were recently quoted in a Star Tribune article, “Teen lung diseases linked to vaping, Minnesota Health Department reports.” The article takes a closer look at four recent cases of lung injury in teens associated with vaping, and calls on physicians to be on the lookout for symptoms related to youth vaping.

Jeff Schiff, MD, FAAP, penned an open letter to Governor Tim Walz and state lawmakers calling for the creation of an independent board to oversee the Medicaid program and its policies. Dr. Schiff previously served as the medical director of Minnesota’s Medicaid program. You can read coverage of the letter in the Pioneer Press.

Janna Gewirtz-O’Brien, MD, FAAP, was quoted in a Star Tribune article that identified short-sighted decisions about Minnesota’s Medicaid program that are harming patients in the process. Dr. Gewirtz-O’Brien spoke to the barriers for patients to access long-acting reversible contraceptives or LARCs.

Krishnan Subrahmanian, MD, FAAP, spoke with WCCO-TV about the importance of sports physicals as part of the station’s “Good Question” segment. You can see the video here.

Nusheen Ameenuddin, MD, FAAP, was promoted to chair of the Council on Communications and Media at American Academy of Pediatrics

Nathan Chomilo, MD, FAAP, was a recent guest on the “What is Black?” podcast, discussing early literacy, racial and health equity. You can hear the podcast here.

Brian Lynch, MD, FAAP, was interviewed by Minnesota Public Radio as part of the “Call to Mind” mental health exhibit. Dr. Lynch spoke about adverse childhood experiences and how early trauma can affect kids, adults, and public health.

Angela Mattke, MD, FAAP, was interviewed by WGN – Chicago about her new book “Mayo Clinic Guide to Raising a Healthy Child.” You can see the interview here.

MNAAP President-Elect Sheldon Berkowitz, MD, FAAP, represented the chapter at the recent signing of the Rare Disease Advisory Council bill, at the request of Erica Barnes, who advocated for the council’s creation after the death of her young daughter from a rare degenerative neural disorder.

Kathleen Miller, MD, FAAP, authored a counterpoint opinion article that was published in the Star Tribune, providing insight into the value of gender affirming care after the Children’s Minnesota’s gender health program was called risky and unnecessary by a previous letter to the editor.

After reading a Pioneer Press article about an 8-year-old girl who found her mom’s gun in her backpack,  MNAAP President-elect Sheldon Berkowitz, MD, FAAP, wrote a letter to the editor to make sure everyone knows the “4 simple steps to keep guns out of kids’ hands.”

Tom Scott, MD, FAAP, has been invited by the Children’s Defense Fund to serve on the 2019 Minnesota KIDS COUNT advisory group.

MNAAP President-Elect Sheldon Berkowitz, MD, FAAP, authored an article in The American Jewish World advocating for rabbis and Jewish community leaders to take a stand for immunizations to protect children from measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases. Read the full article here.

Nathan Chomilo, MD, FAAP, was joined by Cuong Pham, MD, at the Capitol on Wednesday, May 15, to advocate for the repeal of the sunset of the Provider Tax. You can see coverage from KARE11 of their efforts here.

Nathan Chomilo, MD, FAAP, testified on May 10 before a legislative conference committee on behalf of Reach Out and Read MN’s inclusion in the education funding budget. You can see his testimony here (beginning at the 35:00 mark).

Sue Berry, MD, FAAP, co-chair of the MNAAP policy workgroup, authored a commentary about the provider tax in the Star Tribune.

Nathan Chomilo, MD, FAAP, authored a letter to the editor in the Sun Post advocating for the repeal of the sunset of Minnesota’s provider tax.

Ann Sneiders, MD, FAAP, offered an evidence-based rebuttal to a previously published anti-vaccination letter to the editor in the Owatonna People’s Press. In her letter, Dr. Sneiders pointed to the importance of immunizations in preventing illness, writing “immune systems are like muscles — they need exercise to get strong.”

MNAAP President Lori DeFrance, MD, FAAP and three other MNAAP members will attend the American Academy of Pediatrics 2019 Legislative Conference in Washington, DC, April 7-9. During the conference, participants will learn how to become effective child health advocates through interactive workshops and in-depth training sessions, while networking with pediatricians, residents and medical students from across the country.

Nathan Chomilo, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician and internist at Park Nicollet, attended the April 3 State of the State address as a guest of Governor Tim Walz. Walz mentioned Dr. Chomilo’s work in his speech to emphasize the importance of repealing the sunset of the Provider Tax.

Angela Kade Goepferd, MD, FAAP, recently spoke to the Star Tribune about the opening of Children’s Minnesota’s clinic for transgender youth. Dr. Goepferd serves as medical director of the clinic. Read the article here: 

Emily Chapman, MD, FAAP, chief medical officer at Children’s Minnesota, spoke at a press conference in support of the Breakfast After the Bell legislation, which would make it easier for children to get breakfast at school.

Robert Jacobson, MD, FAAP, an expert in childhood vaccines at Mayo Clinic, was interviewed by the Louisville Courier Journal after the governor of Kentucky said he favors exposure to chickenpox over vaccination. Read the article here

Emily Borman-Shoap, MD, testified before the Senate Higher Education Finance & Policy Committee on March 5 in support of SF 1702 (Clausen), which would provide funding to support mental health training for pediatric residents at the University of Minnesota.

Nathan Chomilo, MD, FAAP, testified on behalf of HF 909, which would provide funding to address racial disparities in prenatal care.

Past MNAAP President Andrew Kiragu, MD, FAAP, recently testified in support of HF 8, which would require criminal background checks for private firearm sales and transfers and HF 9, also known as the “red flag” bill, which would allow law enforcement and family members to petition a court to prohibit people from possessing firearms if they pose a significant danger to themselves or others.

An op-ed written by Nathan Chomilo, MD, FAAP, arguing the case for paid family medical leave, was printed in the Star Tribune on Feb. 25.

Past MNAAP President Mike Severson, MD, FAAP, and Children’s Defense Fund Minnesota Executive Director Bharti Wahi penned a great opinion piece encouraging lawmakers to repeal the sunset of the provider tax.

Past MNAAP President Marilyn Peitso, MD, FAAP, testified on Feb. 13 before the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee in support of House File 12, a bill that would ban “conversion therapy” for children or vulnerable adults in Minnesota. You can view her testimony here.

Nathan Chomilo, MD, FAAP, was selected by the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights to receive the 2019 History Makers at Home Award. The award honors African American leaders throughout the state who are making a difference in their communities in the areas of the business, health, education, government, and more. Dr. Chomilo was highlighted on the department’s Facebook page as part of a series introducing the award winners.

Angela Goepferd, MD, FAAP, spoke to KARE 11 about the impact online hate speech can have on children.

Lindsey Yock, MD, JD, FAAP, co-chair of MNAAP’s policy committee, testified about childhood hunger and health on Feb.5, 2019 before the House Education Finance Committee as part of an informational hearing on school nutrition. Her testimony is available at (beginning at 44:40).

Lucien Gonzalez, MD, MS, FAAP, was named chairperson of the American Academy of Pediatric’s national committee on Substance Use and Prevention. The committee is tasked with producing guidance for pediatricians, state and federal government, and other stakeholders to reduce harm from substance use.

Nathan Chomilo, MD, FAAP, medical director of Reach Out and Read Minnesota, congratulated Minneapolis on becoming the country’s largest “Bookend City” in the country, meaning all 32 clinics in the city have chosen to participate in Reach Out and Read. Additionally, clinics had to meet eight quality measures, which included at least 75% of providers being trained in the model and every clinic creating a literacy-rich environment for their patients. All together in Minnesota, there are 262 clinics now participating in Reach Out and Read, representing 40% of all children ages 6 months through 5 years statewide.

Gigi Chawla, MD, MHA, FAAP chief of general pediatrics at Children’s Minnesota, participated in a panel discussion following the Minnesota premiere of No Small Matter. The documentary focuses on the importance of high-quality early childhood education in child development. The screening was hosted by Children’s Minnesota, Minnesota Public Radio, and HealthPartners.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee hosted MNAAP President-elect Sheldon Berkowitz, MD, FAAP, for a discussion of the health impact of screen time on children and adolescents on January 24. Dr. Berkowitz shared with the committee the most recent research about screen time and its impact on child health and brain development. Dr. Berkowitz’s testimony can be viewed at the link available here.

Nathan Chomilo, MD, FAAP, co-authored a commentary in Minnesota Medicine focusing on the small but significant steps all physicians can take to make a difference in addressing health equity in Minnesota. Read the article here.

MNAAP President-elect Sheldon Berkowitz, MD, FAAP, offered the Star Tribune insight into Minnesota’s drop in national health rankings, particularly where low childhood vaccination rates are concerned. Read the article here.

Robert Jacobson, MD, FAAP, past MNAAP president, pediatrician, and professor of pediatrics at Mayo Clinic, has been selected as Minnesota’s 2018 HPV Vaccine is Cancer Prevention Champion for his continual efforts to promote HPV vaccination and its power to prevent cancer. For his 13 to 15-year-old patients seen in the last two years, 71.2 percent have completed the HPV vaccine series as compared to only about 19.5 percent of 13 to 15-year-olds statewide completing the recommended HPV series.

Read more about the work Dr. Jacobson has done to improve HPV vaccination rates.

A recent study published in Pediatrics involving the four children’s hospitals in Minnesota looked at the cause of delayed discharge in children with medical complexity. Of 1,582 delayed discharges, 92 percent were directly attributed to lack of availability in home care nursing. The study suggests that increasing the availability of home care nurses or post-acute care facilities could reduce the length of hospital stay and associated costs. Roy Maynard, MD, FAAP with Pediatric Home Service oversaw the study.

Ruth Lynfield, MD, FAAP, Minnesota Department of Health State Epidemiologist and Medical Director, was named co-chair on CDC‘s Acute Flaccid Myelitis Task Force.

Claire Neely, MD, FAAP was named President and CEO of ICSI.

Rachel Tellez, MD, FAAP wrote a letter published in the Washington Post about the role physicians play in reducing gun violence.

Nadia Maccabee-Ryaboy, MD testified in support of T21 at the Eden Prairie City Council. It successfully moved forward to a final vote the following month.

Nate Chomilo, MD, FAAP partnered with Twin Cities Medical Society to write a letter published in the Sun Post regarding Brooklyn Center’s T21 and E-cig sale restriction legislation. Both restrictions were voted in to place the same week.

Following a national search, UCare has hired Julia Joseph DiCaprio, MD, MPH, FAAP to lead the Medical Director team, as well as the Clinical Services, Pharmacy and Quality Management departments.

Lucien Gonzalez, MD, MS, FAAP, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Minnesota and a Pediatric Addiction Medicine expert, was recognized by the AAP Section on Adolescent Health as the recipient of the Richard B. Heyman Award at the recent AAP National Conference & Exhibition.

Marc H. Gorelick, MD, MSCE, FAAP, President and Chief Executive Officer of Children’s Minnesota was presented with the Jim Seidel Distinguished Service Award from the AAP’s Section on Emergency Medicine at the recent AAP National Conference & Exhibition.

Angela Mattke, MD, FAAP, with Mayo Clinic wrote an article for AAP News recently that provided tips for pediatricians on connecting with the public via Facebook Live Stream. Check it out»

Rachel Tellez, MD, FAAP, wrote an article about how to teach children about differences that was featured in the April issue of Minnesota Parent. Check it out»

Nate Chomilo, MD, FAAP, was awarded the Gretchen Hunsberger Medical Champion Achievement Award from Reach out and Read. Additionally, he and Judith Eckerle, MD, FAAP, were profiled in Mpls.St.Paul Magazine for the Top Docs: Rising Stars edition. Check it out»

Mary Murati, MD, FAAP was recognized with the Bill Richards Young Physician Leadership Award by Park Nicollet Foundation. Since 2009, Dr. Murati has been a Park Nicollet Pediatric Hospitalist, with a keen eye for quality improvement.

Elsa Keeler, MD, MPH, FAAP, was recently named Clinic Medical Director at the HealthPartners White Bear Lake clinic.

Updated 4/17/19

February 4, 2015

Where did you grow up and complete your training? When did you know you wanted to become a pediatrician?

I am a Minnesota native, growing up outside of the small town of Carlton, MN. I went to Smith College in Northampton, MA for my undergraduate degree in psychology. I fell in love with science 2 weeks into my sophomore biology class and realized that I wanted more science in my life! Studying and practicing medicine seemed to be the best way to marry my interest in helping others with my love of science.

During my third-year rotations in medical school at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, WI, I had internal medicine, surgery and then pediatrics as my first three rotations. I would come home feeling very tired and drained after the internal medicine and surgery days. When I got to pediatrics, I was tired but I had enjoyed playing with the kids and watching them explore their world. When I realized that working with kids gave me energy and fun in my day, I knew I would be a pediatrician.


October 23, 2014

MNAAP President and Geneticist at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital

What made you decide to go into pediatrics?

I can trace my decision to be a pediatrician to experience with an individual child. As a medical student, like many of us, I was interested in a variety of things from child psychiatry to internal medicine. I was completely hooked, however, when I experienced the opportunity to care for a little girl who had Reye’s syndrome. After having had chickenpox, she came to the emergency room in a coma, with a failing liver, and I spent the rest of the night with her, my resident and intern, her family, and our attending. When she recovered and left the hospital, I knew I had to follow a path that would let me take care of someone with such resilience.


May 7, 2014

What made you decide to go into pediatrics?

I was born and raised in Kenya. Both my parents were in healthcare. My father was a physician and my mother is a nurse. Growing up, I really admired the way my parents cared for their patients and the impact they had on the lives of others. I remember one elderly gentleman who had driven over an hour to see my dad, but when he heard that he was out of town, he refused to see anyone else. I wanted to be the kind of physician my dad was. Unfortunately my father passed away during my residency, but I like to believe I’m making him proud.

After high school in Kenya, I joined Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada followed by medical school at Howard University in Washington, DC. I then came to Minnesota where I completed my residency training in internal medicine and pediatrics and subsequently a fellowship in Pediatric Critical Care. Why pediatrics? I have always enjoyed being around kids. They are energetic, curious, funny, loving human beings. They are also quite resilient and most, including some of the sickest patients in the PICU, are able to bounce back to health.


February 1, 2014

JanRourkecolorWhat’s your background? What made you decide to become a pediatrician?

I remember making the decision to go into medicine when I was 11. I spent most of that summer in the ICU waiting room hoping that my father would recover from a cerebellar hemangioblastoma. I realized then the power that a physician has to change not only the life of the patient, but the lives of everyone who loves that patient.

My dad lived another 5 years and I was grateful for the additional time I had with him. I didn’t go to medical school right away; I got married at 19, became a nurse and had two kids. When I found that the desire to pursue medicine wouldn’t go away, I applied to and was accepted into the University of Michigan Medical school. My first year pathology professor promised that we would be able to indulge our passion for disease. I did my residency at U of M as well. I had grown up in Michigan and had a lot of family support there, so it was a great fit. When I graduated from residency my husband and I wrote out a list of our dream requirements for a first job. My attendings were tearing their hair out for fear I was too picky and would never be hired, but the folks at Grand Itasca called and said they had just what I wanted. I was the first resident in my year to land a job. (more…)

November 2, 2013

What is your background and why did you decide to go into pediatrics?

I grew up in Delaware, Ohio (outside of Columbus, Ohio), the son of a family practice doctor and two Peace Corps volunteers. My dad was part of a physician-owned multi-specialty group and I was exposed to the business side of medicine at an early age.

My dad is a great doctor who loved taking care of families and has been a role model for me since I was little. He went back to medical school after having 2 kids (and one on the way) and now that I’m older I appreciate the courage and support it took to make that leap of faith.

I am a graduate of the University of Notre Dame. In between undergrad and starting medical school, I did a year of service through the Arch Diocese of Chicago at a drop-in center for the homeless (while living in a community with 12 other volunteers). I attended Wright State School of Medicine and completed my pediatric residency at Nationwide Columbus Children’s Hospital in 2005.

When and why did you decide to open Sartell Pediatrics?

In the fall of 2011 my wife and I discussed the opportunity to open a smaller, more personal clinic within the community. In Ohio, we were used to private practices and felt like Sartell had the demographics to support its own.

It’s been a lot of fun working with my wife on a common goal. I always knew she was bright and talented, but this project has allowed me to appreciate a different side of her which I had never seen before. I think a lot of people wondered whether this type of venture would work, and if we would still be talking to each other after a year. Fortunately, the answer is yes!  It has been a great team effort between the two of us. We’ve never looked back.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a solo practitioner?  

Making sure we are surrounded by the right people and resources. I feel the staff and their interactions are a direct reflection of me and it is important that we hire staff who reflect our values and work ethic.

What are some of the biggest advantages of being a solo practitioner?

Agility. I can respond to patient and market opportunities in a timely, more efficient manner. The successes and issues are mine to sort through…it’s fun.

What do you enjoy most about being a pediatrician? 

I love taking care of kids and seeing the potential with which they possess. I enjoy early intervention — helping children and their families establish healthy habits is the aspect of the practice I enjoy most.

If you weren’t a pediatrician, what would you be and why?

A travel agent. I love to travel, and probably love finding great travel deals more.  I know it sounds crazy, but it’s fun.

What do you enjoy in your spare time?

I have a wonderful wife and two boys ages 8 & 9 who I enjoy coaching in various sports. I enjoy golf, although I will have to live a long time in order to shoot my age.  Since moving to Minnesota I’ve learned to pheasant hunt and fish.  I continue to try and embrace the winter and the activities it provides.

Anything else your fellow MNAAP members might be interested to know about you?

I tell the parents of my patients that my decisions during the day are easy. I treat each patient as if they were my own child and that’s how I decide what we should do next (in terms of treatment/evaluation). I love being a part of the pediatric community, where I know others have the same genuine love of children and common goal of making the world a safer & healthier place to grow.

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