Dr. Kristin Seaborg, GHC Sauk Trails Clinic and Write for a Change LLC
IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Dr. Kristin Seaborg, pediatrician at GHC Sauk Trails Clinic, advocate for epilepsy awareness and research, and president of Write for a Change LLC.
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1. What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?
In order to achieve my goal to raise awareness about epilepsy and educate the public about seizures, I have been forced to reveal my own struggles endured while living with epilepsy and how my illness affects my day to day life. Although I lived with seizures through my training at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, I didn't talk about them to anyone.
Through writing my memoir, The Sacred Disease, and starting my business, Write for a Change LLC, I have acknowledged and spoken openly about my own vulnerabilities in a way I never have before. While this was initially very nervewracking and risky, it has become both the most challenging and most rewarding aspect of my work. Through sharing my story, I have been able to connect with others who have similar experiences. Speaking out has also allowed me to lend a voice to others living with a “silent” illness, no matter what it is.
In addition to be an advocate for epilepsy awareness and research, I continue to practice pediatrics. In my practice as a primary care pediatrician I have found that the “rewards” of experiencing medicine from both sides of the bedrail have helped me learn to be a more empathic and understanding physician.
2. Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?
I admire those who have put their own personal reputation at stake with the goal of serving the greater good and educating others. For instance, Michael J. Fox spoke early and often about living with Parkinson’s Disease and advocated for others in the community living with the illness. Piper Kerman was incarcerated for 18 months for a white collar crime and now spends a significant amount of time speaking out about the American judicial system and racial disparities in prison.
3. What has been the high point of your career so far?
The highlight of my advocacy has been the feedback I’ve gotten from people who have read my book or attended one of my talks. I’ve received emails from patients, parents, and friends of those living with epilepsy who said that they didn’t know how to talk to others about seizures or understand what a loved one was going through until they read my book. Recently, I spoke to the Madison Kiwanis club about epilepsy. After the talk, an audience member approached me in tears. She shared that her sister lived with epilepsy 30 years ago and it was a closely guarded family secret until the time of her death. Through tears, she explained that she was grateful that others were talking more openly about epilepsy now and she hoped that no other family had to live in shame like hers did many years ago.
As a pediatrician, the highlight has been watching children grow and evolve through the years. I’m especially interested in children with special health needs and am always amazed at how resilient they are. I think many adults could learn from watching young children with medical concerns. The majority of these kids are motivated to live to their full potential and enjoy each day to its fullest no matter what challenges they face.