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Kim Dixon has an affinity for unexpected timing. After spending
several years working as an engineer, she turned everything upside
down and went to medical school while in her late 20s. While there,
she married and had three children. At the age of 40, she took up
figure skating, and last year she joined a competitive synchronized
skating team. This innate spontaneity has paid Dr. Dixon great
dividend, and so has the decision to be an internist. If given the
choice of doing it all over again, would she make the same
decisions? Her answer: a resounding 'yes.'
Learning to Fly
In college, Dr. Dixon had the feeling that she wanted to become a
physician, but she was already en route to a degree in computer
science at Rutgers College in New Jersey. Following graduation, she
took a job working as an engineer, but something felt amiss. "I
just didn't feel fulfilled as an engineer," she explains. "I wanted
to help people more directly."
She enrolled in medical school at Robert Wood Johnson in New
Jersey and stayed on for her residency. Internal medicine was an
obvious choice. "I realized that as an internist, you're in a
really unique position," she explains, "because you're the grand
master of your patients' health care. It's such a privilege, the
relationships I have with my patients-being able to gain their
trust over time."
Dr. Dixon also benefitted from wonderful mentors, women who gave
her guidance, and one residency director in particular who
influenced her greatly. Dr. Nayan Kothari made a big impression on
her and her classmates. "He was just so uniquely wonderful and
dedicated," she says. "He taught us what it meant to be an
internist-how it is important to always uphold the highest
standards of care to patients, and to be committed to life-long
learning." After finishing residency, she worked for him for a year
as chief resident and then joined him as a faculty member at St.
Peter's University Hospital in New Jersey. "I literally wanted to
glue myself to him," she says, "he's just one of those people who
you want to grow up to be like."
Soon however, Dr. Dixon felt compelled to spend more time with
patients, and knew it was time to move on to the next stage of her
career. "It was time for me to fly on my own," she explains, "and
working in faculty, I felt my patient care was more fragmented than
I liked. I wanted to dedicate myself to my patients."
Laughter as Medicine
Dr. Dixon currently works in a private practice in Bedminster, NJ
with three other physicians. She and her colleagues have modeled
the practice to allow maximum time with patients. "There are
features of our practice that I feel are definitely better than
most," she says, "We actually answer our phones, we can spend the
time we need to with patients, we are conscientious…things
don't fall through the cracks."
She treasures her relationships with her patients. "I feel very
attached to my patients and I'm proud of that. Although I have had
many achievements in my life, what I have with my patients is what
I'm most proud of." Every day she says is filled with interesting
and meaningful interactions, some of which are humorous. "Medicine
is very comical-every day something or someone makes you laugh!"
Dr. Dixon feels that internal medicine as a field is gaining
momentum. "Students who choose primary care and internal medicine
now will end up being in a better place than in the past; as an
internist there is always further opportunity," she explains. "I am
absolutely so happy that I chose internal medicine for so many
reasons, mainly for the relationships it affords me with patients,
but I am also grateful to be well compensated."
Like many internists, Dr. Dixon places a high value on work-life
balance, and cites it as one of the driving factors behind her
decision to pursue internal medicine. She recalls being told in
medical school that as an internist, she should never have to miss
out on an important event or occasion. Dr. Dixon takes full
advantage of her job's flexibility, often spending time with her
husband, an electrical engineer, fifteen-year-old son, and
thirteen-year old twin daughters. Every year the family travels to
a different national park together. Last year, they visited
Yellowstone and next year they have their sights set on
And then there is the skating. Although a lifelong exercise
enthusiast, Dr. Dixon never found a particular sport that captured
her attention, until five years ago, when she discovered her
passion for figure skating. She just started her second year as a
member of an adult synchronized skating team called "Aged to
Perfection." "It's actually a sport!" she says with a laugh. This
year, the team won 6th place at the Eastern Sectionals in Lowell,
Check out previous
articles as physicians share what motivated them to become
physicians as well as why they chose their particular type of
July 2010 Issue of IMpact
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