Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C) Kristin Haag first worked at Sarah Bush Lincoln as a high school student when she participated in Shelbyville’s Health Occupations program. Health Occupations provides opportunities for individuals to learn about healthcare careers, while providing them with opportunities to develop basic skills and competencies required for healthcare careers. Each year, the Health Occupations program hosts about 130 high school students throughout the region.
After high school, Hagg followed in her parents’ footstep by earning a degree in radiologic sciences. She worked as an ultrasound technologist for three years before returning to school to become a physician assistant like her dad, Gary Hayden, PA-C, who cares for people at the SBL Shelbyville Clinic.
“My dad has been a physician assistant for 25 years. I worked at his clinic during Health Occupations class in high school, and I worked in reception there, too. I developed a love for working with people. That’s when I said, ‘I want to be a PA,’” Haag recalled.
“My dad is the main reason I’m here [at Sarah Bush Lincoln]; he loves his work,” she explained. “When I visited here, it felt so relaxed; and I felt as if everyone is here for you. You don’t always get that.”
Haag worked at a Shelbyville Clinic for five years before moving recently to the SBL Charleston Clinic East. She is pleased that her career journey has allowed her to return to Sarah Bush Lincoln.
Dad’s can be good at offering sage advice, and Mr. Hayden is no exception. “My dad told me, all you have to do is listen, even if you sit there and say nothing. I thought, ‘Yeah, right, that won’t work.’ But it’s true. I learned that people need a listening ear. They don’t need me talking to them; they need to talk to me,” Haag explained.” The more I listen, the more I learn—and the more I can personalize a treatment plan for them.”
Haag entered the family medicine field because she enjoys caring for people of all ages. “In my work day, there is something new every day. I’m always learning. In family medicine, I am able to follow patients from their newborn visits forward,” she said.
Haag believes that one of her strengths is supporting patients during difficult times, including periods of mental illness, death and grief. “I like to talk about mental health and work with my patients on it,” she said. “Helping people with every day issues like high cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar is important, and so is mental health.”
Haag, who laughs easily, lives by her mantra: laughter is the best medicine. “Sometimes I’ll tell a joke when appropriate during patient visits to help patients feel comfortable, and I’ll go in the exam room with a kind heart and listening ear. I want my patients to be comfortable and honest and allow them to lead the visit.” She also works with patients to address issues that are linked to health, including poverty, food insecurity and transportation. “It’s really important that we address those things so people can lead healthier lives.”
For more information or to make an appointment with Kristin Haag, call 217 345-2211. Her office is located in SBL Charleston Clinic East, 2040 Lincoln Ave., Charleston.