From the age of eight, Pediatrician Brittany Odom, MD, knew she wanted to become a doctor. In bringing her dream to life, she fulfilled another longtime dream: running college track. The young runner earned a full athletic scholarship in track and field to study medicine at Baylor University in Waco, Tx. When the time came for this goal-oriented young doctor to choose a medical specialty, Dr. Odom was easily drawn to the friendly, fun-loving work environment that is pediatrics. After all, she had already fallen for the children she’d cared for. Her path was set in stone.
“I really was just floored by how happy I was at the end of the day, after working with kids. It’s a very special sector of medicine, and I don’t want to be anywhere else,” she said. “Kids are so resilient. They have the best points of view and the best perspective on things. They can make you laugh, no matter what’s going on in their day.”
As a pediatrician, Dr. Odom is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with area children and their families at Sarah Bush Lincoln’s Pediatric Clinic. She comes to the community after working as an urgent care pediatrician in Orlando, FL. “It was a great job to have right out of residency because I saw a lot of things and it was very fast-paced, but I missed watching my babies get bigger and bigger,” she explained. “I’m most excited about getting to know, on a deeper level, my patients and their families and then earning their trust, so we can work through things together.”
“Starting at the age of 11, I was a year-round track athlete. That was my focus. It wasn’t school or medicine; it was track.” In fact, Dr. Odom earned All-American honors four times as an undergraduate at Baylor.
And while track led the young runner across many challenging and enjoyable miles, it wasn’t going to be a career. When the college-aged Dr. Odom reflected on what she would do with her life, she found inspiration in her parents’ work. “Both of my parents are in healthcare. My mom is a radiation therapist and my dad works in a cardiac cath lab. They always came home with a lot cool stories about how they were able to intervene and help people in times of need, so medicine was always in the back of my mind,” she said. One summer, Dr. Odom shadowed a cardiologist who her dad worked with, and she was hooked on medicine from that point forward! “I fell in love with it, and I even considered becoming a cardiologist,” she said.
After graduating in 2012 with a bachelor of science in Health Science Studies, Dr. Odom returned home to Kansas City where she then earned her medical degree from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 2016. She completed three years of pediatric residency training at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, FL, where she gained a vast amount of experience working with children and their families within a hospital setting.
“I learned so much from the kids I worked with— and from the parents who were taking care of them, day in and day out,” she said. “It’s very easy in medicine to get lost in the details, but I always keep in mind that the person in front of me is a human being and not a patient. I feel getting to know my patients on a deeper level helps us connect in a way that betters my care.”
In October 2019, Dr. Odom took part in a medical mission trip to rural India where she cared for impoverished children. “It was one of the highlights of my entire life. It was so rewarding to use my training to make a quick, impactful, meaningful change in a small community,” she said.
Having traded her track shoes for a stethoscope years ago, Dr. Odom spends her free time painting, drawing and staying active with her husband Clifton, the new cornerback coach at Eastern Illinois University. “We are both excited about the move. We immediately loved the people and felt the sense of community here. I can’t wait to get plugged in with my patients and get started,” she said.
To make an appointment with Dr. Odom, call the SBL Pediatric Clinic at 217-258-4006.