We caught up with Dr. Lisa Tannock of the UK Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center for this week's Making the Rounds conversation. Dr. Tannock joined UK in 2004 and is now the chief of endocrinology in the Department of Internal Medicine as well as the associate director of the Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center. Endocrinologists study and treat hormone-related diseases, such as diabetes and thyroid disease. Some of Dr. Tannock's clinical interests include diabetes and insulin resistance, cholesterol disorders and transgender medicine. Barnstable Brown is one of the few centers in Kentucky to offer hormonal management therapies to transgender individuals.
What drew you to study endocrinology?
In medical school, I very quickly realized I was never going to be a surgeon. Fine motor skills are not my strength. I went through internal medicine residency first. Within internal medicine there are lots of different career paths, but endocrinology is really the whole body. Hormones affect whole body systems and have a lot of feedback loops. I found it very interesting clinically as well as for the research opportunities, so it was a very natural evolution.
How did you start learning about transgender hormone therapy?
I started learning about it in my fellowship. At that point it wasn’t something that was very well known, and it was before Caitlyn Jenner came out, who I think really brought it to the public awareness. I was trained in my fellowship and when I moved here, one of my partners was doing it, so when he retired, I took over his practice. At that point it was pretty minimal. Not many patients were looking for transitioning between the genders. After Caitlyn Jenner came out, I think a lot more people recognized it in themselves, and a lot more people have started seeking hormone therapy. We actually have a very large practice in that now.
What's the most rewarding part of your work?
Teaching, teaching, teaching. It is so fun to see a med student grasp a concept for the first time and get that something they’ve seen in a textbook. The first time they see it in a patient and recognize the physical appearance of the symptoms that they only read about before – that is just so rewarding and validating. Even if someone doesn’t want to go into endocrinology, it’s still that a-ha moment.
Watch our interview with Dr. Lisa Tannock where she explains why she decided to pursue medicine and about her patient care philosophy.