VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - South Georgia Medical Center (SGMC) welcomed a new neurosurgeon, which means they can now provide neurosurgical care 24/7.
It also means far less patients have to leave the area to get that service.
“Ever since I was little, I wanted to be a surgeon and my first interest was actually plastic surgery. But I was fortunate enough to meet a very influential neurosurgeon in my medical school and through working with him, he convinced me that I can pursue neurosurgery and have a fruitful career,” said Dr. Kimberly Mackey, adult and pediatric neurosurgeon at SGMC.
Tuesday was Mackey’s first-day seeing patients in her new office.
She made the big move to South Georgia with her husband, who works at Moody Air Force base and young son. Her family felt like Valdosta was the best fit, especially after realizing that there was a gap that needed to be fulfilled in her area of specialty.
Previously, there wasn’t a full-time 24/7 service provided for those in need of a neurosurgeon, so patients had to leave the community for neurosurgical coverage.
Neurosurgery is the medical specialty that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the brain, spine, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves. It requires knowledge of neurology, critical care, trauma care, and radiology.
“My time in New Mexico was very important to me because I was the first fellowship-trained neurosurgeon who could offer pediatric care as well. I was able to make a big impact in the state. My time working internationally has been very important to me because I was able to provide care for people around the world who otherwise wouldn’t get it and to serve as an ambassador for both my Christian faith and our country,” said Mackey.
Mackey has practiced in different states and has been on missions abroad, including Kenya and Uganda.
According to the National Institutes of Health, only about 5 percent of board-certified neurosurgeons are women.
Mackey said it can be a challenging career but a very rewarding one. She hopes to inspire young girls out there to reach for their goals and believe they can pursue any career they want to choose, especially if it’s male-dominated.
“Neurosurgery is traditionally a male dominated field, the training required to become a neurosurgeon requires at least 16 years after high school of education and training. And I think that such an education endeavored has deterred many people thinking they can pursue neurosurgery. In today’s society, and historically, woman have often been placed in traditional expectations and traditional societal roles and that doesn’t always lend easily for pursuing long academic pursuits. Today, there are more and more women training in neurosurgery and I would hope that my presence here as a neurosurgeon would serve as an inspiration to any young people who would like to pursue the field including young girls,” said Mackey.
Mackey said her favorite part of the job is taking care of trauma patients because it’s very intense but after treating patients quickly and seeing immediate results, it can be very fulfilling.
Her office is at SGMC’s Professional Building.