Passion for science leads Reese to career in medicine
MILLENNIAL OF THE YEAR
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
With both of her parents being educators, Kristi Reese knew early in her life that she’d be going to college. Her field of study was a little bit of a question, though.
That was until she reached high school and one of her teachers suggested science. It sparked her interest to the point that she found herself on a path that led her to becoming one of the best-known family medicine practitioners in Tallahassee.
Today she still has vivid memories of the day that her science teacher made the suggestion that changed her life.
“A lot of times when you don’t have positive influence or have a positive role model, you don’t see it or you don’t believe I can do that,” she said.
By age 25, Reese was in medical school and on her way to a career that has now spanned almost 10 years. As one of the youngest doctors on staff at Capital Health Plan, she was recently selected as the Capital Outlook’s Millennial of the Year.
“I was shocked and surprised,” she said of the honor. “There are so many great millennials in the Tallahassee area. It challenges me to continue to try to succeed in medicine and be a part of the community; try to influence others that will come after me.”
Reese grew up in the tiny town of Greenville, Ga., and her first extended stay away from home was during the four years she spent at Alabama A&M. She did a brief stint at UAB before completing her medical studies at South Alabama.
She joined CHP’s staff in 2007, after completing residency at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital.
She’s had a few challenges along the way, Reese said, but none impacted her like the day she was headed to Tallahassee from Alabama. Midway through the trip, her father fell ill and not long after getting him to TMH he passed away.
The experience has helped her relate to similar circumstances that her patients might face, she said.
“Now when I look back on the situation, I realize that God brought me through it so that I can relate to others when they go through challenging times,” she said. “I may not know exactly how they feel, but I can say I understand what it feels like to lose a parent.”
Those who know Reese say she is constantly seeking ways to grow as a doctor, sometimes traveling to conferences. Not only that. She’s had a reputation for being a very compassionate physician.
“She is one that is very approachable. She treats all of her patients as if they were her family,” said Dr. Anitra Brown, a longtime friend who met Reese while attending Alabama A&M. “She goes above and beyond to make sure they get access to care they need.”
Just as in her case when she was a teenager, Reese never misses an opportunity to be an influence for others who want to make medicine a career.
“It’s all about preparation,” she said. “Being a doctor is one of those paths that take a lot of will and a lot of school. For me not to want to be a doctor when I was a little kid, it all just fell in place.”