Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital welcomed a woman to its team who has lived historical changes in society.
“I had been interested in medicine from childhood,” said Dr. Beverly Byrd, newest member of the staff at Hugh Chatham Women’s Center.
“As a 7-year-old, I asked my mother if there was any such thing as a woman doctor and she told me no, because back then there were none,” said Byrd, who became a nurse instead.
“I actually did nursing and pre-med simultaneously in undergrad,” which was helpful when Byrd decided go into medical school after serving as a coronary care unit ICU nurse.
“I wanted to be a cardiologist because I felt that was my comfort zone,” said Byrd, “but when I got into medical school and started looking at all the specialties, the thing I liked about OB was that it was a little bit of medicine, it’s a little bit of surgery, but it’s a lot of happy circumstances.
“The OB/GYN residency was the hardest one to get into because everyone wanted to be a part of that special time in people’s lives,” said Byrd, who completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Florida at Jacksonville after receiving her medical degree from Medical College of Georgia.
It was while in college that this child from a family of teachers decided to become a medical professional.
“At the time I believed [it when her mother told her women couldn’t be doctors], because in the community I grew up in, there weren’t any women in medicine that I knew of,” said Byrd. “I didn’t run into women interested in medicine until I got into college.
“I got into the nursing program and then became acquainted with women who had gone on into the pre-med courses, had taken the M-Cat, had gotten in [to medical school]. I thought, let me just see if I could do that, so I started taking the [pre-requisites] and I loved them. I loved physics and chemistry and the hard sciences. I just loved it and did well at it.”
That experience gives Byrd authority to encourage others. “Your gender is not going to be a problem if you do the work and you’re willing to put in the time and education to acquire the expertise that you need in a career,” said Byrd.
“Now it may a problem with some people,” said Byrd. “There are always people out there who are going to be kind of backwards. Walk away because there are other people out there who want [you to do] what you’re doing, and who wants to be around those bad people.”
Byrd did want to be around North Carolina and had looked at working in the area previously.
“Coming out of residency I had tried to get a spot in North Carolina and things didn’t work out,” which lead to practices in Atlanta and, most recently, Connecticut. But Byrd heard the call of North Carolina before being approached by HCMH. “We were ready to come south and so we were actually looking in North Carolina again.
“I don’t wanna be too far south. It’s too hot down there, but I don’t want to shovel snow anymore,” said Byrd, who loves the geography of the area. “The fact that it’s near river and near mountains is huge.”
So is the interest in gardening, according to the doctor, who nurtures plants as well as people. “I’m a big gardener and there are other people who are interested in gardening in this community,” said Byrd, adding she also enjoys the farmers market, coffee shops and the fact that the town is walkable with some shopping.
“I like a small community,” said Byrd, and that’s what the hospital is as well as the town.
“In the Hugh Chatham community, people were actually nice to each other,” said an impressed Byrd, “and staff seemed very happy and I’ve been in some places where that wasn’t necessary true.
“I was also very impressed that Paul [Hammes, CEO of HCMH] took time out from his weekend to actually come to dinner with us,” said Byrd, who appreciated the efforts of board members and other administrative staff as well. “Kind of hard to say no to this one.
“This is sort of the right-size hospital for me, right-size community for us, a spot that we like so here we came.”
To talk gardening, growing against gender roles, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Beverly Byrd at Hugh Chatham Women’s Center located at 150 Parkwood Drive in Elkin, call 336-835-5945.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.