Story by: Kim Huston on February 5, 2020
The two pediatricians at Norton Children’s Medical Group – Windy Hills have known each other since long before one of them was a doctor. When they met, one was one was a college student trying to figure out her future career, while the other was already a pediatrician who understood the value of having — and being — a mentor.
Now Maria T. Bowling, M.D., and Renita D. Price, M.D., practice side by side, continuing a legacy of mentorship and dedication to caring for children and families.
The two met in 1998, after Dr. Bowling’s mother, a nurse, suggested to her daughter that if she was considering a career in medicine, she should shadow a physician. After her first year of college, the aspiring physician found her way to Dr. Price’s practice. That was over 20 years ago.
“I don’t know that I planned to mentor Maria; it just kind of happened,” Dr. Price said. “She came to work in the office, we valued her as an employee, and she eventually came up to me and said, ‘I think I want to go to medical school.’ And I said, ‘Maria, think long and hard about that.’”
“She did; I can’t blame her for my choices,” Dr. Bowling said with a laugh.
Dr. Price’s journey to become a pediatrician began in her childhood pediatrician’s office. She worked in the office of Robert McCloud, M.D., in Somerset, Kentucky, during the summers as an undergraduate student. She talked to him about going to medical school and becoming a physician.
“He was such a positive role model,” Dr. Price said. “That’s when I became interested in pediatrics. He obviously enjoyed what he did very much, and to see the bond that he had with his patients was impressive. He was a very smart pediatrician; he always took the time to teach me, and I enjoyed the challenge.”
Dr. Price has built bonds of her own with patients and families during her career of 30-plus years. Dr. Price is now seeing a second generation of children whose parents were her patients when they were little. She even attended the wedding of two of her former patients.
“You are part of an extended family for them; they trust your advice and seek your advice,” Dr. Price said. “You’ll get parents who will have a little newborn, and they have no other children, and that’s when you really feel like an extended part of the family. You’re answering their questions and helping them grow confidence in their parenting skills.
“Being positive and acknowledging their experience goes a long way: ‘I know you’ve got a lot on your plate, but you’re doing a great job.’ You see the parents grow and develop their skills, and their kids grow up to be healthy and happy, and It’s a very good feeling.”
According to Dr. Bowling, she is still benefiting from Dr. Price’s mentorship and experience.
“I’ve learned how much her patients truly love her and the care she’s provided,” Dr. Bowling said of Dr. Price. “She sees kids well into their 20s, and that has meant the world to these families. It’s been really cool to see everything she’s done. It speaks to how much they truly respect her and enjoy letting her be a part of their family.”
After finishing her residency in pediatrics, Dr. Bowling began working as a hospitalist. She enjoyed the challenge of working with children who were very sick in the hospital and helping them get better. After six years of working as a hospitalist, she began to realize that she was missing something in her career.
“I would get close with these patients and families I was caring for,” Dr. Bowling said. “I would see them for two to three days at most, and then I’d discharge them and never see them again. The relationships are what drew me to pediatrics, and not being able to provide that continuity of care was hard for me.”
Dr. Bowling wondered, though, if she would miss the challenges of working in a hospital, but she needn’t have worried. She has found a lot to love about working at Norton Children’s Medical Group – Windy Hills.
“There’s always something new every day, always something to learn,” Dr. Bowling said. “Being able to see these kids in the office and build relationships has been really rewarding and awesome so far.”
Her mentor has watched Dr. Bowling embrace the pediatrician’s role.
“Maria was worried about the transition,” Dr. Price said. “It’s been fun to watch her understand and build the bonds that a general pediatrician has with their patients. She’s gotten a few newborn patients, and she’s just fallen in love with them from the first time she met them. She’s hooked.”
According to Dr. Price, she and Dr. Bowling share a passion for caring for children.
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“We have fun,” Dr. Price said. “I always tell parents looking for a pediatrician that I love what I do, and my hope is that fact comes through in the care I give to their children. I know that’s true for Maria, too.”
“Skills that Maria had when she first came to the office were being a great volleyball player, a wonderful person and very smart. Those were her skills way back then, and now she’s a wonderful physician,” Dr. Price said. “That’s been a transition that has been a pleasure for me to watch.”
According to Dr. Bowling, knowing that she would be working with Dr. Price also eased her transition from hospital work to pediatric primary care.
“I trust her and know she’s a great physician,” Dr. Bowling said. “She has mentored me all through my career, but more so in this switch because my world was different in hospital medicine. She’s made the transition very easy for me. I think we learn something from each other every day. We’re a good team.”