Dr. Ertl, began her career at Associated Physicians in August of 2016. We sat down with her to talk about her journey to peds and how she found a new clinical home at AP!
What would you say motivates you most about what you do?
I like working with families and helping them transition into having kids and through times of childhood or, when their kids are sick to help make them feel better. I like watching families grow and change. I enjoy being a part of that.
What are you most excited or passionate about in your specialty?
I like general well care. I get to work with families when new babies arrive, work through behavior problems, just all the great preventative care things. I do like sick visits as well. It’s nice to be able to help kids feel better or at least help parents help their kids feel better. You really get to know the families well.
What are the goals you most want to accomplish in your work?
I want to be a good resource for families. I want them to feel like they can trust me and come to me with questions or concerns. I want families to know that I am here to help them understand different things about their kids or what’s going on with their kids. My practice is a little bit younger, so right now I’m focused on the toddler behavior stuff. Having a toddler of my own helps with that. I see this just continuing to grow and develop as my practice ages.
How does being a mom help with that?
Being a mom helps me as a pediatrician understand that even some of the stuff we say by the book like, “they should only have this” or “they shouldn’t do this,” is at the end of the day sometimes just based on survival. I think it just lightens me up a bit and gives me a different perspective.
What led you to pediatrics?
My pediatrician, Dr. Joe, actually! He was awesome. My two little sisters and I had him all through high school and then he was my mentor in medical school. He is really a big part of our family. I just loved him, so when I decided I wanted to do medicine, I thought it would be really cool to do what he did for me, for other people.
What attracted you to work for Associated Physicians?
I like that it’s a smaller practice and it’s a little bit more of a personal feel. There’s seven of us, but we all know each other’s patients really well, which is nice. My last practice in Grand Rapids was a small private practice, so I felt like the transition was an easier one because it had that similar small practice feel.
Do you feel that you have the resources that you need to care for your patients?
I think we are really lucky, in that we are a small private practice, but we are here in Madison. So, we can offer that small town personal feel and personal care, but at the same time we have every resource that the larger groups around us offer. We can utilize their specialists and all of the testing that we would need, and so on. So, I think we are in a unique situation where we can offer a high level of personal care and really get to know our patients, but also provide them with any special resources that they might need.
Where did you grow up and what was it like?
I grew up in Delavan, Wisconsin. It’s a really small town, which was nice. My high school class was only 200 people! My mom worked at the high school and my dad was the newspaper editor, it was very much like that. I feel like Madison has that kind of small town feel too, even though it’s a bigger city.
Where did you go to school?
I went to undergrad at UW Madison where I studied biology, and then medical school in Milwaukee where I met my husband. He and I then couples-matched over to Grand Rapids for our residencies. My residency was three years long and his was another three years on top of that, so we were in Grand Rapids for six years, but we both wanted to get back to Madison. When we finally did, we felt very lucky. It was so nice.
Did you have any impactful stories from your time in school or residency?
On our first day of medical school, we got our white coats. They had asked people in the community to be sponsors of the white coats and so, when I got to the white coat ceremony, mine was there with a letter from Dr. Joe, which I thought was really sweet.
What are some lessons you’ve learned over the course of becoming a pediatrician that you want to share with your patients?
This is one of those things where having your own family and being a pediatrician helps you understand and teach that not everything you learn in medical school or residency necessarily can apply every day to everyone. Having kids is about survival, so you make things work. Everyone is full of advice, and everyone wants to give you their two cents on how to raise your kids, what to feed them and how to do this or that, but in the end, you need to figure out what works for you. I like to be part of helping families figure out what works for them.
What kind of advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
It’s a lot of hard work, but I think it’s worth it once you get to the end of all of it. You really get to have a special place with families and just be part of something so special in general.
What, in this specialty, gives you a sense of hope or inspiration?
It’s amazing how medicine continues to evolve and change in the new testing we have and the new vaccines we have and the diseases that we prevent that we couldn’t prevent 10-15 years ago. I think all of that is wonderful and going forward we will continue to be able to keep kids healthier and healthier. Kids are so resilient and in the end, they do really well, which is such a great part of pediatrics.
What are you looking forward to?
Well, we’ve been back for a year and a half now. Our families are both here which is really nice, so, with a toddler at home, we are getting to raise our family and spend time with our family, which is different, but really really nice. We are enjoying being back in Madison in a different form. It’s just a different Madison from what we had before, so we are really enjoying learning this “new” Madison.