For this week’s Making the Rounds, we chatted with Gena L. Cooper, MD, assistant medical director of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at our Makenna David Pediatric Emergency Center. Dr. Cooper shared what makes our pediatric emergency department so special along with why she pursued pediatric medicine as a career.
What made you interested in medicine and especially pediatric medicine?
I grew up on a farm, so I spent most of my time hanging out with our animals and exploring outdoor spaces. And I always was really interested in what made nature tick and what made life tick and that led to my interest in medicine.
I enjoy taking care of people, especially children. And I really enjoy working to help make their health better and to help their parents feel empowered to take care of them.
What’s unique about pediatric emergency medicine?
For me, emergency medicine is a great area to work in and to be a part of. I get to help take care of kids with everyday concerns, like a broken arm or cut on their head, all the way up to kids who are really, really sick. And that's something that provides me with a challenge every day but also an opportunity to help – and especially help support their families through challenging times.
Our goal in the pediatric emergency department is to always put children first and to help support their families right along with them as we take care of each and every child on a day that's usually pretty rough for their family.
One thing I like to try to be sure we do in each visit is help the child understand what's going on and help them to feel comfortable that we're taking care of them and we're listening to what they need us to know.
What makes the pediatric emergency department here at UK so special?
We have the opportunity to provide our patients with more resources than you typically see in a community emergency department. We have child life specialists who help us work with kids to distract them and teach them about procedures or experiences they might have in the emergency department. We have on-site interpreters for families that need different communication styles. And we also have nurses that are dedicated just to the pediatric emergency department so you can feel more comfortable that people who are taking care of your kids only work with kids day in and day out.
What’s the coolest part of your job?
I think the coolest part of my job is being able to have a patient give me a high five after they've come in with something that made them fairly worried and be able to go home feeling well and knowing that they're going to be just fine.
The other cool thing is I get to hand out popsicles.
Watch our full interview with Dr. Cooper.