Thinking back over four decades as a pediatrician, Dr. Sherwood Lee can only guess at the number of children who have been entrusted to his care. Some of the kids he saw in the early years of his practice are now grandparents of current patients.
On the whole, he reckons, the tally has to be in the tens of thousands. Yet of all those he has cared for, only one has returned as a clinician to work alongside him.
That former patient and current colleague is Briana Whalen, NP, now working with Dr. Lee and others in our busy Haverhill Pediatrics office, where she’s soaking up the art and science of caring for children.
Briana, who grew up in Haverhill, is the daughter of Bruce and Jennifer Franz. Following high school she attended Northeastern, earned her Master’s as a Family Nurse Practitioner, and before coming to Pentucket Medical in July of 2014 spent six years at a Mass General inpatient medical unit, where she cared for adults.
“Caring for the little guys,” Briana says, “is a big-time different world. It’s a lot different than working with adults. I am learning a lot from all of my colleagues.”
“I started my own schedule in February,” she adds. “I’m doing one physical an hour, and as I learn the ropes the pace is picking up. The support I’ve been getting here is amazing. It’s an ideal situation for someone like me.”
Dr. Lee sees a bright future for Briana.
“We’re hearing nothing but good things,” he says. “She has a good rapport with patients, and that’s very important in pediatrics where you have to develop a bond with not only the patients but the parents, in order to get information and to do the exam appropriately.
“It takes time,” he says. “I’ve always felt that 90 percent of what you need to know as a pediatrician you can learn in the first year or so of practice, but it takes 20 years more to learn the last 10 percent.”
Briana is focused, confident and hungry to learn. It’s clear she loves the challenge.
“Haverhill pediatrics is a big practice. It’s nice to see other people’s styles,” she says. “I come home at night and go online and read up on one thing that I’ve picked during the day to look into,” she says. “Harriet Lane, that’s the pediatric bible!”
There is no mistaking the pride in Dr. Lee’s voice as he talks about his former patient and new colleague, but when asked about it he deflects the question.
“My job as a pediatrician is to make sure they grow up healthy,” he says. “It’s really the parents that set the stage. “