My Baystate Story: Kelly Tyler, MD, Division Chief, Colorectal Surgery, Baystate Medical Center

Colorectal Surgery

March is Colorectal Awareness Month, and here Dr. Kelly Tyler shares how she honed in on the field of Colorectal Surgery, the three biggest lessons her work has taught her, and what she feels everyone should know about colon cancer:

“My journey to becoming a physician grew out of a love of molecular biology and science as well as an interest in community health and geriatrics. I still think of my high school biology teacher Mr. Malley who sparked my imagination and curiosity, and the first elderly persons I was able to connect with at a skilled nursing facility I volunteered at during those early years. Through the course of my undergraduate education, I realized that being a physician would allow me to merge my interests and live a meaningful life of service to my community. Through medical school and residency I honed in on Colorectal Surgery as I enjoyed the technical aspects of caring for surgical patients and the holistic practice that is typical of Colorectal Surgery. I care for a range of patients including those with day-to-day issues such as hemorrhoids as well as patients with inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer. The impact that me and my team are able to make on individual health and quality of life is both fulfilling and humbling.

I am the Division Chief of Colorectal Surgery here at Baystate. I started straight out of my Surgical and Colorectal training here at Baystate over 15 years ago as the sole employed Colorectal Surgeon of Baystate Medical Practices. With support from our leadership in the Department of Surgery and across the health system, I have been able to work with some amazing people over these years to build a stand-alone Division of Colorectal Surgery with a dedicated Academic Service. Our Division now boasts four colorectal surgeons, three advanced practice providers, three registered nurses, five medical assistants, a surgical scheduler, a manager, and countless support staff who help us to provide high quality care for our patients every day. One of the most meaningful parts of our work is teaching students and residents as part of the Colorectal Surgery Academic Service.

Every day of the week is different and brings different challenges. Some days, I am in the office seeing new and follow-up patients. Most days I am in the OR performing surgeries that can vary in length from one hour to longer than six hours each. You can find me doing the occasional endoscopy as well. Some of my time as the division chief is spent in meetings working on improving the services we provide, communicating with my team, and collaborating to improve colorectal surgical quality. I spend a significant amount of time teaching both in and out of the OR.

Being part of a team is the most valuable aspect of our work. We can’t take on the challenges of what we do every day without the support we have from those around us during the highs and the lows. Being a teacher in whatever role you have in health care is probably one of the most important things you will ever do – you pass on your experience, your knowledge, and some of the wisdom you have gained to those who will be caring for us in the future.

And our patients are our inspiration – I am continually amazed and humbled by their courage, grit in facing illness, and drive to get through their struggles and look toward a better tomorrow.”

Interested in a career with Baystate Health? 

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Picture of Debra Whittemore

Author:Debra Whittemore