Every night, Dr. Kristin Barrett jots down at least 3 things she is thankful for in her gratitude journal. On good days, it’s fun for her to reflect and celebrate a great day, but on the more difficult ones, it helps her refocus on the important things and find the silver lining.
If you ask Dr. Barrett, she’ll tell you one common theme that continues to pop up in her gratitude journal is her appreciation for her patient families and career as our newest pediatrician at Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics, Mansfield.
She is grateful to be able to return home and serve families in a community she has a strong connection to and loves. She’s also thankful to be able to work for an organization that puts children and community first.
Most of all, she’s full of gratitude to be able to take care of children in all stages of development and build a special relationship with patients that comes with watching them grow up. After all, her ultimate goal is to one day take care of her patients’ kids because to Dr. Barrett, that’s the best “thank you” a pediatrician could ever receive.
Why did you choose to come to Akron Children’s Hospital?
Growing up, I always knew of Akron Children’s strong reputation in the community, as it was the closest children’s hospital to my hometown. When interviewing for a residency position almost 4 years ago, my plan was to go somewhere new, and warmer, however, as soon as I met the people in the Akron Children’s Residency Program, I knew I wouldn’t be going anywhere else.
After being at the hospital for the last 3 years, I was excited for the opportunity to return to my hometown area.
Describe your role at Akron Children’s and what you hope to accomplish?
Being a general pediatrician really allows me the opportunity to take care of all children throughout all their stages of development. Because my family was all born and raised in the surrounding area, I have a strong sense of connection to this area and really want to provide the children here with great care. I hope that I’ll be seen as a physician that is an important part of this community’s health.
What is your area of expertise and why did you choose it?
I’m a general pediatrician. I chose outpatient pediatrics because I really enjoyed almost every specialty that I rotated through and I couldn’t imagine only doing one thing for the rest of my career.
I also really enjoy the special kind of relationship that general pediatricians get to have with their patients, since they get to take care of them from birth to adulthood.
Do you have a favorite instructor or mentor?
I was very fortunate to work as a research assistant at the Radiation Oncology Department at Cleveland Clinic throughout college. The biostatistician and physician I worked with were always so supportive of my career choices and played a fundamental role in my decision to pursue medicine. They always went out of their way to provide me with amazing opportunities, and they introduced me to evidence-based medicine and the importance of clinical research.
What unique or different skills do you have that help you practice medicine?
When I was in college, I didn’t want to focus on only science-based coursework. I knew medical school would provide me with the scientific knowledge that I needed to be a good physician, so I chose to major in anthropology. Specifically, I focused on medical anthropology.
The classes I took taught me how to approach medical care within a cultural context and helped me understand that a patient’s past experiences and beliefs can drastically impact how they interact with the medical system. I use this knowledge that I’ve learned to help me provide individualized care to patients and families.
How does your personality fit your role?
I think, like most pediatricians, I’m a kid at heart. One of the ways to assess if a child is developing properly is to play with them, and I am not above making silly faces, playing pretend or keeping up with the latest trends in child entertainment. When children are in my office, my goal is to ensure they feel safe, and if possible, they have fun.
What are you most looking forward to?
I’m really looking forward to meeting all the families in my new community. One of the best parts of being a general pediatrician is getting to follow patients and families over many years and so I’m really excited to get to know the families that I’m going to get to watch grow up.
What excites you most about medicine?
I think technology has gone a long way in advancing medicine and will continue to do so. Coming from a clinic that used paper charts, having the EMR (Electronic Medical Record) has allowed me to more easily know all the details about my patients and provide more cohesive care.
For instance, I can see what happened with my patient at an outside ER or if they saw a specialist or if someone else prescribed them a new medicine. I think using an EMR certainly still has its challenges, but as they continue to evolve patient care will continue to become more seamless and safer.
Who makes up your family, including pets and their names?
I live with Joseph, my husband of 6 years, and Finnegan, my 22-month-old son. We also have a dog named Rex and a Russian Tortoise named Darwin, who will probably outlive us all.
What’s the best thing about your family?
Both my husband and son are very laid back, which is in contrast to my more type-A personality. They have helped me learn to go with the flow more often and be open for whatever opportunities life hands us. Some of my favorite memories come from adventures that we couldn’t have planned for or willed to happen.
My husband has also been incredibly supportive of my career and has been willing to follow me anywhere. He has really stepped up to be an amazing dad when I was working 80 hours/week as a resident.
What is one thing you haven’t done yet that you would like to achieve?
This is a long time in the future, but eventually I’d like to work at a practice long enough that my former patients bring their children to see me. I think this is pretty much the best compliment that a pediatrician can receive because it means that their parent remembers fondly when you were their doctor and they respect and like you enough to now let you take care of their own children.
How do you unwind from a busy day?
Several years ago I started keeping a gratitude journal. Each night before I go to bed, I write down at least 3 things I’m thankful for. This helps me reflect on my day, whether good or bad. On the days that are good, it’s fun to look back and celebrate what a great day I had. On days that were more difficult, it helps me refocus on the important things in life and find the silver lining.
What’s your favorite holiday?
My favorite holiday is definitely Halloween. You can’t beat a holiday that combines fall colors, candy and getting to be someone else for the night. I can’t wait until my son is old enough to go trick-or-treating for real. Last year, I was working nights in the hospital so he came to visit me at work and we did reverse trick-or-treating. We passed out candy to all the units in the hospital. So fun!