How I Became A Pediatric Neurologist In Orange County

As a child, I remember everybody wanting to become a doctor, a veterinarian, a fireman, a policeman, or a superhero.  We grew up, developed new interests, and many people chose other paths.  For the most part, my path has been straight and narrow from that early age.

I grew up in San Diego where I was involved in leadership and mentoring activities throughout my elementary, junior high, and high school years. I was drawn to math and sciences, though I loved learning in general.  I have always found great joy in making a difference in other peoples’ lives.  I remember an activity at a leadership camp as a teenager where each person in the group was given a candle.  One person’s candle was lit.  This person passed the flame to the person next to them and this continued until everyone’s candle was lit, creating a vast amount of fire and light.  I identified with that flame and I still enjoy using my energy and light to create brightness and fire in people around me.  I knew that I wanted to change the world by affecting one life at a time and from an early age I knew that would happen through becoming a pediatrician

Through my Physiological Sciences major at UCLA, I was able to dive deeply into the amazing works of the human body.  I loved that there was order and a reliable flow of events leading to life and our ability to eat, breath, think, move, and live.  I found myself drawn to neurology- from the big picture nervous system down to the tiny synapses and channels at the nerve and muscle junction.  Looking back, I see this is where my future career started to take shape.

After working for a year as a clerk in an emergency room in San Diego, I ventured outside of California, to an osteopathic medical school in Kansas City.  I was drawn to osteopathic medical schools because of the emphasis on the whole body working together to create health or illness- and the need to think about the body as a whole when making diagnoses and treatment plans.  From the first day of class, we used our hands and minds to touch patients in order to learn about function and dysfunction.  Here my interest in neurology grew, as much of our diagnoses comes thorough physical examination.

I thought I would return to California after four years of medical school.  Before leaving for school, I went to lunch with a friend who suggested I look into the Army’s competitive Health Professional Scholarship Program.  Although it sounded somewhat  “crazy,” I talked to a recruiter and a few days later my application to the scholarship was in.  I was drawn to the idea of taking care of soldiers’ children in addition to the fact that I would complete medical school without debt. I had no idea of the immense impact the military would have on my life and my career

I completed a three year pediatric residency in Hawaii from 2002 to 2005 at Tripler Army Medical Center.  With my fellow residents, we experienced all aspects of pediatrics with the added component of military life. As we rotated through various specialties in pediatrics, I found that I was continually drawn back to neurology, where I enjoyed the patient and family interactions more than any other specialty.  We were involved in the highs of bringing babies into this world and the lows of seeing young lives taken.  As military physicians, we saw mothers and fathers deployed from their families, and the resilience of those left behind. 

For my first job as a board certified pediatrician, I served as the Chief of Pediatrics and sole pediatric provider in a busy practice in Fairbanks, Alaska for one year.  That year of general pediatrics allowed me to gain confidence in my clinical skills and helped me understand the plight and joys of being a general pediatrician.   As a provider in Alaska, I still found myself continually drawn to neurology and I further developed my skills in the initial recognition and treatment of neurologic and neurodevelopmental disorders.  That time also helped me understand the role and value of subspecialists- both for patients and for primary care providers. 

While in Alaska, I was selected for a competitive fellowship in pediatric neurology, which I completed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C from 2006-2010.   I gained expertise in all areas of pediatric neurology, through my mentors, patients, and colleagues.

On completion of fellowship, my first job as a board certified pediatric neurologist was at San Antonio Military Medical Center in Texas from 2010-2013. I had the opportunity to continue to teach and to hone my skills and expertise as a child neurology specialist there.

During this time, I was chosen to serve as the neurology consultant in Iraq for six months, which included serving as the concussion/traumatic brain injury expert for the country.  This time helped me learn to rely on my expertise and knowledge to treat patients with varied neurological diagnoses, learn to function independently and confidently and at times with limited resources.  All of these experiences helped prepare me as I worked toward my ultimate goal of opening this private pediatric neurology clinic.

In opening my pediatric neurology private practice, my primary goal was to create an office that welcomes families and children of all ages, and I hope you’ll feel that from the moment you first interact with me.    Being a new pediatric neurologist in the area has allowed me to have a fairly open schedule—which means I can schedule an appointment with your family relatively quickly. I am able to personally guarantee that we will have adequate time to review your child’s history, to perform a detailed (and fun) physical exam, and have a complete discussion about your child’s diagnosis and plans. 

As my family and I integrate into the area, I am already enjoying serving the Orange County Community. I look forward to working with you and your family and am certain that South Orange County and the surrounding areas will come to know me as a caring, compassionate, and expert pediatric neurologist.

Pediatric Neurolog of Orange County