Woodbury’s Top Doc?
Meet Dr. Paula Kelly, a pediatrician at the HealthEast Woodbury Clinic at Woodwinds Health Campus.
Those Mpls/St. Paul Magazine lists on top doctors?
Been there, done that.
“Hopefully it’s a little more than a popularity contest,” Kelly said.
She didn’t seem to put much stock in the annual awards, but a friend once said that she would probably rather be on the list than off it.
“Well, of course,” said Kelly, who has worked at the Woodbury clinic since it opened about 12 years ago.
Growing up, Kelly said her father made education a top priority, and hailed the medical profession as something that could be an “esteemed and rewarding career.”
“He really gave me the encouragement to think about medicine,” said Kelly, who came up in St. Paul and attended medical school at the University of Minnesota.
Still, she called it a “serendipitous” pairing of personality and career, and said she has enjoyed the work much more than she initially thought she would. One of the main things she enjoys about being a doctor is meeting “incredible people.”
“I never would have had the chance to meet those people if it wasn’t for my career,” Kelly said.
Advances and Challenges
A doctor for the past 25 years, Kelly said she has seen the rise of preventive medicine and cures for diseases like polio and the measles.
But she also saw the advent of the AIDS virus and among youngsters an increase in anxiety and depression. Doctors still don’t fully understand autism, Kelly said, and she has seen an uptick in the importance of the psychological aspect of her job.
While she noted the sometimes cumbersome bureaucratic parts of her job as a challenge, Kelly also pointed to the difficulties dealing with parents who refuse immunization for their children.
That’s not to say Kelly is a traditionalist. She said she has embraced the holistic approach at Woodwinds.
“It’s a good fit,” Kelly said.
Kelly has three grown children of her own (though she never treated any of them outside the typical cuts a bruises a child endures). And despite her accolades, Kelly said children in general are sometimes easy to treat.
“I always say: Kids get better in spite of what you do to them,” she said. “They’re resilient.”
In general, pediatricians are at the bottom of the pay range for doctors, Kelly said, but she enjoys caring for youngsters and seeing former patients come back with their own kids. For example...
Kelly once treated a 3-year-old boy for a rare disease that required a tracheotomy. She was a young doctor at the time but the most senior working the old Children’s Hospital. The surgery went well.
Years later, a man came into Woodwinds, telling that same story, asking if she was that same Dr. Kelly. She said yes, and he showed her a scar on his neck.
“I receive so much from this profession, and it’s been a really happy career for me,” Kelly said. “I feel very fortunate.”