Whenever the weather permits, pediatrician Kathleen Palm, MD, enjoys long hours in her garden, tending to native plants and growing vegetables. Having time for gardening is just one of the many perks of her job-share with fellow pediatrician Mary Horrall, MD, at The Portland Clinic. “It’s worked out nicely for both of us,” says Dr. Palm, “allowing a healthy work-life balance. I know that when I’m not in the office, Dr. Horrall is there to help if one of my patients needs to be seen right away.”
Dr. Palm tends to her young patients warmly and gently, understanding that children aren’t always enthused about going to the doctor. “My medical assistant and I work as a team to make our patients’ visits as pleasant as possible,” she says. If a child seems anxious, “I talk to the parent first to give the child time to get used to my presence.” You’ll often find Dr. Palm sitting on the floor with youngsters to put them at ease. With older children, she explains what she is doing step by step to help them feel more comfortable.
Pediatrics is a natural fit for Dr. Palm, whose interests in math and science almost led her in a different direction. As an undergraduate, she studied chemical engineering and considered going into research. But one summer in the lab was enough to teach her that she wanted to work in a field where she could more directly help people and interact with them. So, she went on to medical school, where she found that of all of her clinical rotations, working with children was her favorite. Today, Dr. Palm has chalked up over 30 years as a pediatrician — about half of them with The Portland Clinic — and couldn’t be happier.
“I really like being part of a multispecialty group,” says Dr. Palm, who worked in another multispecialty clinic in Ohio before she joined The Portland Clinic. “It’s great to have specialists to confer with, as well as the other pediatricians.” Between her pediatrics practices, she spent a few years working in urgent care, “which was fun,” she says, “but I missed having that relationship with families and following them over time.”
Since she job-shares, Dr. Palm has plenty of time to pursue multiple interests outside of the office, and she takes full advantage of that. In addition to gardening, she enjoys spending time with her two daughters. She exercises regularly, doing Body Pump and circuit training at the gym, and running, biking and hiking outdoors. When she misses the snow in Ohio, she heads to Mt Hood for some skiing or snowshoeing. Through her church, she plays in a bell choir and helps prepare a monthly dinner for the Transition Center. And she always has a sewing or craft project going on. Whether at the office or at home, she says, “I try to appreciate each day for the treasure that it is.”