Like Coming Home
For Pediatrician Kaylan Edwards, M.D., taking a job Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center is very much a homecoming.
Starting her practice in the first pediatric clinic at Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center in Bolivia is like coming home to Kaylan Edwards, M.D.
She explains that her mother, Debbie Fisher Edwards, was born at Dosher Hospital in 1961 and that her grandfather’s first assignment as a highway patrol officer was in Southport.
“His patrol station was on land where Hardee’s now sits,” Dr. Edwards says. “This is less than a quarter mile from where my office is now. I find it fascinating that nearly 60 years apart we both started our ‘first real jobs’ on almost the exact same piece of land.”
Dr. Edwards, 31, projects a casual, upbeat and easygoing manner and fills her conversation with lots of laughter. With her grandfather, Roscoe Edwards, at her side in her offices at Brunswick Medical Campus in Supply, the two delight in discussing family and their connection to southeastern North Carolina.
Edwards, 80, marvels at the location coincidence and adds that after six years as a patrol officer, he chose to head back to the family homestead in Whiteville. He and his wife, Mary, continue to live in the 80-year old home where both he and his father were born. For 50 years he planted and harvested tobacco, corn, peanuts and other produce on the 48 acres and raised cows as well.
Dr. Edwards explains that she lived in Wake Forest with her mother and sister, Caroline Fisher, but twice each month throughout their childhood and teen years, the three of them drove to Whiteville. “It was home to us,” Dr. Edwards says. “When we went to town, we knew everyone.”
Memories flow as she recalls raising strawberries and tomatoes and planting flowers, canning tomatoes and making jelly. Household projects were also on the agenda. She tells of installing a floor in the original bathroom when she was 14 but in the process broke the seals around the toilet. Her grandfather taught her how to fix the seals and finish laying the floor.
“She’s a pretty good plumber,” Edwards says. “She did a good job.”
“We always had something to do,” Dr. Edwards says. “An old house always has problems.”
Her grandparents traveled to Wake Forest for their granddaughters’ Christmas pageants, graduations and other activities. “No matter what we did, they were always there,” Dr. Edwards says.
Her goal to be a physician began from the time she can remember. “Dr. Tom [her childhood pediatrician, Thomas N. Weber in Wake Forest] was nice and made me feel better,” she says. “He made me smile.”
This relaxed attitude benefited her when she was diagnosed with scoliosis and needed surgery at age 11 and again at 16. She says the medical profession became real to her during the innumerable medical visits at that time. When she discussed becoming a physician with Dr. Tom, he told her, “If I could do it, you can do it.” With support from her family, she didn’t need to question her decision.
Dr. Edwards majored in chemistry at Meredith College in Raleigh and attended medical school and completed residencies in both internal medicine and pediatrics at East Carolina University in Greenville. She doesn’t drink coffee, never has, but to stay awake late at night her mother made sure she had fun-size packs of M&Ms. “They definitely got me through many nights of residency,” Dr. Edwards says. Growing up, her breakfast every morning consisted of peanut butter and jelly. “A fold over, a half sandwich,” she says. “I still do it.”
She didn’t think she’d come to Brunswick County to practice medicine. “Novant reached out to me when I had a year left in residency to see if I was interested in being here,” she says. “I thought it was a good opportunity, and there’s a need here.”
The pediatric clinic opened August 21 with Dr. Lori Tackman, a pediatrician since 2000 who left a practice in Cary, joining Dr. Edwards.
“Kaylan is a wonderful physician who is extremely organized and so pleasant to work with despite various big events going on in her personal and professional life,” Dr. Tackman writes in an email. “I admire her knowledge and patience with technology, especially the electronic medical record, a very special skill!”
“Bringing pediatrics to Novant is helping keep the healthcare of children in Brunswick County so they don’t have to travel for health care,” Dr. Edwards says. “I think there is a huge need here, and the community is excited about us being here.” She nods toward her grandfather. “Family is very, very important to me,” she adds. “I really made the decision to come here because I wanted to serve a community. I wanted people to know their pediatrician and feel like I was a part of their family.”
Her goals include educating people about healthy living, nutrition, access to care and other aspects of healthcare. “I like the role that a pediatrician can have in the whole family’s life,” she says.
When asked what he admires about his granddaughter, Edwards says, “What don’t I?”
Besides her practice, Dr. Edwards is planning her wedding to James Morse, a Realtor with D.R. Horton, scheduled for New Year’s Eve in Whiteville. The choice of date is once again to gather friends and family together. “I love the holidays, and this is a holiday wedding,” she says.
Dr. Edwards looks forward to meeting more patients and more Brunswick County residents. “I like the people,” she says. “That’s what got me down here. No matter what someone is going through, the people of southeastern North Carolina are one big family, and they take care of you as if you are their own.”
Dr. Kaylan Edwards
Dr. Lori Tackman
Novant Health Pediatrics Brunswick
20 Medical Campus Drive NW, Suite 205, Supply