By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior writer, firstname.lastname@example.org
From the time she was a little girl, Lauren Logan knew she was going to be a doctor.
She might not have understood what diabetes was, but she saw how it shaped her baby brother’s life and the lives of everyone around him, and she wanted to learn more.
Born and raised in a small town in Kentucky, she was about 5 when her brother Alex was diagnosed at 17 months old with type 1 diabetes. For as long as they both can remember, the condition was top of mind, affecting all members of the family in some way.
Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, the hormone needed to allow sugar to enter cells to produce energy. While there is no cure, treatment focuses on managing blood sugar levels, diet and lifestyle to prevent complications.
Fast-forward 25 years and that little girl has become a doctor, while her brother is managing his diabetes well as an adult.
Dr. Lauren Logan is in her first year of fellowship in pediatric endocrinology at Riley Hospital for Children, after completing her three-year residency here.
“I just feel like I was called to pursue this field for other families,” she said. “I was always very interested in all of it.”
Person behind the patient
She might not have been able to spell the words back then, but she says she knew in elementary school that she wanted to be a pediatric endocrinologist.
“I remember tagging along with my mom and brother on doctor visits, and my mom would tell me the good and bad parts of the visits. She said what she looked for in a provider was someone who knew my brother by name and not just as a patient with diabetes,” Dr. Logan recalled.
“I thought to myself, ‘I’ll do that. I’ll be that person.’”
And today she is.
“At Riley, I hope my patients know I care about more than just what they’re seeing me for. I try to learn about their life and the things they’re interested in,” she said.
“I definitely feel that’s the environment at Riley. It’s been such a great place to train and to learn because I feel that’s a big priority of all the attendings and all the staff – they really care about all the kids,” she said.
“We want to take care of whatever they’re here for, but we also really care about them as people.”
Husband was a Riley kid
Dr. Logan has a special place in her heart for Riley because her husband, Ryan, was a patient as a teenager. The two bonded over their shared connection when they first met a few years ago.
“He has the utmost respect for Riley, and I’m so thankful my husband is here. Without Riley, I wouldn’t have gotten to meet him.”
As a fellow, Dr. Logan does inpatient rounds and works in clinic most weeks, and there is dedicated time for research. For her, the best part of endocrinology is all of it.
She might see one patient for diabetes, another for early or delayed puberty, and another for adrenal gland or thyroid issues.
“The day is never boring,” she said. “I love it all.”
She shares advice from her own mom when talking with some of her teenage patients who struggle with their illness.
“When my brother was feeling isolated because of his diabetes, she’d say, ‘Everyone is dealing with something. This just happens to be your something.’ I say that quite a bit to our teenage patients who are struggling with teenage things and feeling isolated with their condition.”
The health journey she and her family have been on has made them all stronger, she said.
Listen to parents
Dr. Logan values forming connections with patients and families. She recalls one young patient and his mother, who reminded her of the importance of a parent’s intuition.
The little boy came into the Riley ICU when Dr. Logan was doing her residency. His diagnosis was unclear, and it was early in the days of Covid, so only one parent could be at the bedside.
Dr. Logan sat with the child and the mom at some point every day until they were able to get a diagnosis for the baby.
“I knew how hard it was to not know the answer and for her to be isolated. We really bonded and got through that hard time.”
It was the doctor’s own mom who impressed upon her the importance of a mother’s intuition.
“I’ve seen how true that is time and time again during my training,” she said. “Medicine alone may not provide us all of the answers in a single moment. That’s the beauty of the field; we learn new things every single day.”
The pandemic, she said, is a perfect example of how physicians use what they know at a point in time to take care of patients, then adjust and adapt that care as new information is discovered.
“If we as providers have a patient that doesn’t quite fit with the diagnosis we initially had in mind, if there’s a piece of the puzzle missing, it is especially important to listen to the parent’s intuition and consider other possibilities,” Dr. Logan said.
That’s what she did in the case of this particular boy, and it paid off.
“I’m so thankful we were ultimately able to find the right diagnosis for my patient so his parents can watch him grow into a spunky little boy with so much opportunity ahead of him. His mom is an amazing advocate for him. I’m very grateful for the lessons I learned from getting to know them and will carry those lessons with me for the rest of my career.”
Riley is a place of good energy, she says. She knew it from the moment she stepped inside the hospital. She was interviewing for residency placements, and Riley was her second-to-last stop.
“I kind of had an idea of where I would go, but then I walked into Riley and I got this feeling … this is such a special place. I saw how everyone interacted with each other, and everyone is so great with the patients.”
And she felt as a resident, she would be joining a program where she and her peers would be challenged but cared for at the same time.
“I felt I could come here to learn and train and finally do what I’ve studied my whole life to do. I think it was a God thing. I just felt it.”
As hard and as exhausting as it was, she says she enjoyed just about every specialty she rotated through.
“I learned that pediatrics is an extreme field – when it’s good, it’s really good and exciting. But when it’s sad, it’s heartbreaking because it’s a kid.”
In the end though, it’s all worth it, she said, pandemic or not.
“It’s worth the late nights and the stress if you really feel called to the profession. At Riley, all the fields work together as a big team. I see that all the time with our kids who see multiple specialists. It’s all been worth it to get here.”
Photos submitted and by Mike Dickbernd, IU Health visual journalist, email@example.com