New neonatologist Karin Plummer Potoka, MD, FAAP loves caring for the tiniest patients in the Mahoning Valley area. Although she treats infants for a variety of conditions and birth defects, she has a passion for finding new and better ways to diagnose and treat pulmonary arterial hypertension, a serious complication associated with chronic lung disease in prematurity, to help patients breathe easier.
Q: Why did you want to become a doctor?
A: I love science, and I love people. By choosing medicine, I get the best of both worlds by helping people by using science!
Q: If you could choose your age forever, what age would it be and why?
A: I would be 29 because you still have tons of energy, drive and your whole life to live, but you have some maturity and life experience to help you.
Q: When you curl up on the couch to watch a movie, are you most likely to have a bowl of popcorn, chocolate or box of tissues?
A: Definitely a bowl of popcorn. We celebrate “Friday night family movie night” at our house each week with our own personalized popcorn bowl.
Q: What is the last thing you do before you go to sleep?
A: Bring our cat, Tux, and dog, Ruby, inside and kiss my husband goodnight.
Q: What piece of advice did someone give you when you were young that still resonates with you today?
A: Life is short so work hard and play hard!
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I am from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Growing up, I enjoyed skiing in the Southern Rockies, hiking in the Sandia Mountains and competing in barrel racing and horse jumping.
Q: What did you want to be (profession) when you were little?
A: A dentist because I loved the power tools and the thought of helping people improve their overall health through better oral care. It really appealed to me.
Q: What’s your most treasured possession?
A: My kids, who are 10, 8 and 2. I enjoy spending time with them at the beach each summer on a big family trip where we have uninterrupted time together. My husband and I also LOVE watching our older ones perform on stage each year in their school’s annual shows.
Q: What was your first concert?
A: The U2 Zoo TV tour in the early 90s at Hershey Park.
Q: What was your first paying job?
A: I was a lifeguard at our family’s club pool. I swam for its summer swim league and then began coaching and teaching lessons when I was in high school. Becoming a lifeguard seemed like a natural progression, plus I loved the idea of helping swimmers if they were in trouble.