PCMS president Kay Chandler redefining priorities while caring for patients, the medical community and self
Kay Chandler, MD, has been changing the lives of women in central Arkansas for more than two decades. Now, the president of the Pulaski County Medical Society is encouraging providers and medical students with a call to partnership and purpose.
The road to medicine
A native of Benton, Ark., Chandler developed an interest in medicine at a young age. "My mom was an RN, and one of my earliest memories is her sitting me down around age five and showing me embryology pictures," she said. "Those things, and my mom's desire to help others, piqued my interest even then." Chandler also recalls reading about the first female physicians in sixth grade, and being encouraged by teachers to pursue science and healthcare. In junior high, Chandler's interest in women's health grew when Benton OB-GYN and family friend, the late Robert "Tony" Council, MD, allowed her to job shadow. Following high school, Chandler majored in chemistry at Hendrix University before earning her doctorate at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, and completing her residency at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Cornerstone Clinic for Women
In 1997 Chandler joined Cornerstone Clinic for Women, a Little Rock practice that now includes seven physicians and nine APRNs. Chandler demonstrates her commitment to integrative care by training her team on hormone management, nutrition supplements and providing individualized, excellent care for patients, while teaching them to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. She has been named Best OB-GYN by Little Rock Family Magazine and AY Magazine, and has been included on the national Best Doctors, Inc. list since 2005.
Chandler also serves as president of the Pulaski County Medical Society, where she's focused on educating members about and promoting Safe Surgery Arkansas, a coalition of medical doctors with years of experiences in eye surgery who are challenging Act 579 of 2019. The coalition includes members from the Arkansas Ophthalmological Society and the Arkansas Medical Society.
She's also committed to creating healthcare leadership opportunities for the state's medical students. "It's been so exciting to support projects the students really want to do," she said. That includes learning medical Spanish through LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens), and planting a garden to gift patients with fresh, free produce at Harmony Health Clinic, which provides Little Rock's underserved with medical and dental care.
A balancing act
As part of her personal commitment to integrative and preventive health, Chandler also is passionate about encouraging others to maintain a healthy work/family balance, and strives to hit the mark herself. "As providers, so many things are pulling on us, from more documentation to changing EMRs," she said. "There are things we love about those, but it also means I've hired more personnel to help alleviate that stress. I love my work and what I do, but I've also got my family and have had to make some tough decisions." One of Chandler's toughest professional decisions came in 2006, when she made the difficult choice to stop practicing obstetrics. "I went into OB because I loved delivering babies, but I also had four children and was missing things with them by being on call," she said. "It was also affecting my personal health, but I didn't want to let my partners down." Today, Chandler has found that balance, and has grown to love the surgical and clinical aspects of gynecologic care - as well as family meals and a good night's sleep. "I'm constantly figuring out which things I need to do and finding my niche and my calling," she said, referencing the "80/20 rule." "When I see a need I want to do it, but just because there's a need it may not be my calling. At the end of the day, no one says they wish they spent more time at work. It's tough to make those decisions." Chandler credits her ability to remain flexible to the support of her husband, Little Rock dentist Jeffrey Chandler, DDS, whom she married her first year of medical school.
Care in the time of COVID-19
Chandler also addressed unique challenges facing healthcare providers in 2020. Under her leadership, PCMS has made a contribution to the Little Rock Cares COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, which is being used to provide PPE for Pulaski County healthcare workers and first responders as well as providing meals. As a board member of the Arkansas Medical Society, Chandler also is helping providers navigate unprecedented challenges. "The AMS has done a fantastic job of helping physicians throughout the state navigate all the challenges of caring for patient during COVID-19, including telehealth, getting needed PPE and much more," she said.
Chandler also is committed to reaching her goals, both personally and professionally. She hopes to expand her work in hormone therapy, grow her practice and host community events to educate the public on healthcare issues related to domestic violence, sex trafficking, nutrition and overall health. "Every day I'm striving to be the healthiest me I can be, from diet and exercise to spiritual enrichment, sleep health and quiet time," she said. "I also want to be my best at helping others, including my family and patients, be the best they can be."