Q&A With Kimberly Whelan, M.D.
Dr. Whelan is Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and is currently the Medical Director of the TLC clinic and Childhood Cancer's Survivor Program.
What inspired you to become a doctor?
Becoming a doctor has always been what I wanted to do. My mom would tell stories about when people would ask what I wanted to be when I grew up I didn’t say doctor. I said pediatric oncologist. I guess I just always loved science and always had a great relationship with all my doctors.
Where did you attend school?
I went to school all over the place. I got my medical degree from the University of South Carolina, did my pediatric residency at Vanderbilt University and my fellowship in pediatric hematology and oncology here at UAB. I stayed here because I love Birmingham and the group of people I work with. I’m thankful I put down my roots here.
Did you face any challenges as a woman earning a medical degree?
I can remember as a resident walking into a room with a male student and the patients would assume the man was the doctor. Some patients are still like that, but I think we’ve come a long way since those times. Eighty percent of pediatric residents here at Children’s are female. Females are supported in this department.
What is your research focus?
I do research in childhood cancer survivorship. UAB is a part of the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS), and we are a leader in this because of what we’ve learned about later effects of survivorship. We also use our own survivorship population to look at all sorts of things, like fertility studies and effects of exercise in survivors. So I am a part of bigger a smaller studies.
What’s something important you think women should know if they’re pursuing a degree in medicine?
I think the first thing is to work hard and not get discouraged. You also need a really good mentor and support system at home to help you along the way. It’s a really exciting time for women in medicine. The women before us have opened so many doors, and now we can be involved in anything - from research to leadership and everything in between.