WANT TO BE A NEW CHAPTER ALUMNI?
Apply online to share your accomplishments and endeavors.APPLY TO BE FEATURED
Kansas City, Missouri
Fellow, pediatric emergency medicine and child abuse pediatrics
Children’s Mercy Kansas City
Cree Kachelski, M.D. (PD ’19), was the first person in her family to go to college. She describes herself as an open book and talks frankly about being the child of recovering addicts who reach out to help others who are struggling with recovery. Dr. Kachelski overflows with gratitude for the support she received from her Mayo Clinic residency program when she experienced a divorce during residency. She used the experience to launch a well-being program for residents. Newly married, Dr. Kachelski has relocated to Kansas City for a four-year combined fellowship in pediatric emergency medicine and child abuse pediatrics. She and her husband, a Mayo Clinic resident, will be long-distance newlyweds while he completes his training. If her track record is any indication, Dr. Kachelski will triumph over the challenge of distance and emerge with lessons to share with others.
“I like to tell parents,’I’m here now to do all the worrying. I want you to concentrate on loving your child. Put your concerns and worries on me.’ Watching the parents’ faces relax is so rewarding. They feel heard and validated, which is a large part of my job taking care of children. I don’t just care for the kids; I get to care for the whole family. It truly is an honor that I don’t take lightly.”
I loved science from an early age but didn’t want to be a physician at that time because I thought they worked all the time. Growing up, I was sick a lot and spent a great deal of time in the hospital. I quickly learned, however, that I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. That, coupled with my love of biology, led me to medicine. After my sophomore physiology class, I recognized my passion was to become a physician, and I started shadowing in family medicine at Olmsted Medical Center. I became an EMT to gain experience.
I completed medical school at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. I’m the first person in my family to earn a college degree and the first physician. My parents are extremely proud.
I grew up in the country in Elgin, Minnesota, where my parents still live. Elgin is about 30 minutes from Rochester. I had married my high school sweetheart and thought I was going to have my own family. I wanted to be close to my parents so they could help while I continued my training.
My marriage fell apart early into my intern year, and I ended up getting divorced. I’m very fortunate to have been at Mayo Clinic during that time. I don’t think I’d have found the support and love I received if I’d been in another other residency program. My whole world was shaken. My program director, Jason Homme, M.D. (MED ’99, PD ’02, PDCMR ’03), and fellow residents rallied behind me. They were supportive and understanding as I worked through everything and gave me a safe place to talk about what I was going through. They stayed with me so I wasn’t alone, made me meals and uplifted my spirits when I needed it. With that support, my education and ability to be a physician didn’t lapse. If anything, I was able to dive deeper into my education and push myself harder.
As a result of my experience, I helped create the Pediatric Residency’s well-being committee. It started as social events to have time with our colleagues and quickly became something larger to include mental, spiritual, financial and physical health priorities for residents. Now we have social functions for residents and their families, and a lecture series, mentoring and community events. I can’t wait to see where the committee takes the well-being initiative.
Pediatrics was one of my first rotations in my third year of medical school. I quickly learned I was a natural at taking care of sick kids and their families. More than that, I loved every single day and opportunity to take care of kids. I like to tell parents, “I’m here now to do all the worrying. I want you to concentrate on loving your child. Put your concerns and worries on me.” Watching the parents’ faces relax is so rewarding. They feel heard and validated, which is a large part of my job taking care of children. I don’t just care for the kids; I get to care for the whole family. It truly is an honor that I don’t take lightly. During residency I found myself thriving in the pediatric emergency department.
I enjoy the breadth of illness and conditions I get to care for in the Emergency Department. I’m pursuing pediatric emergency medicine because I like a fast pace and sense of pressure. I operate well in high-stress situations. I can stay calm and think quickly. Pediatric emergency medicine combines everything I like about medicine. I like to think my racing background lends itself to helping me thrive under stress. In racing, there are moments when you have to make split-second decisions to keep yourself safe, your vehicle intact and ahead of the other people on the racetrack. Those moments taught me to stay calm, collected and aware of things ahead of time so I could anticipate situations with a plan. The Emergency Department requires the same thought process, and I’m lucky I have developed the skills I have through motor sports.
It felt incredible. Being selected by those who I have been fortunate to help teach and further their goals is such a privilege. I’ve made educating others a big part of my career; I want to help trainees become the physicians they aspire to be.
I get my love for education from my mom. She went back to school to become a nurse after I was born. She completed her bachelor’s degree when I was in medical school. She’s my biggest supporter and inspiration.
I’ll live in Kansas City, Missouri, because Mayo Clinic doesn’t offer the fellowship I wanted — pediatric emergency medicine. I’ll be at Children’s Mercy in Kansas City; they created a dual fellowship for me — pediatric emergency medicine and child abuse pediatrics. I will be the first person through their combined program, which is very exciting! I will be one of a handful of physicians in the U.S. to do this combination fellowship. I feel that my pediatric residency set me up well to excel in my fellowships. Surrounded by the staff at Children’s Mercy, I know I’ll get the best training possible.
It’ll take four years, and I’ll get a master’s degree in medical education at the same time. I aspire to be a pediatric residency program director someday. Educating the next generation of leaders in pediatric medicine would combine my passion for teaching and love of medicine and advancing the care of children and their families.
My program director and mentors have been awesome in helping me achieve my career goals. Dr. Jason Homme and his twin brother, James Homme, M.D. (MED ’00, PD ’03, PDCMR ’04, EM ’07, Department of Emergency Medicine, Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine), prepared me for fellowship interviews by helping me know what questions to ask. One of my mentors, Thomas Hellmich, M.D. (EM ’12, chair, Department of Emergency Medicine), helped me prepare through mock interviews as did James Colletti, M.D. (PD ’02, Department of Emergency Medicine).
The associate program director for pediatrics residency at Children’s Mercy was impressed by the teaching I had done as a resident, so Dr. Jason Homme contacted her to share how our pediatric residency teaches residents to teach others. It was heart-warming to see that kind of collegiality across institutions and makes me excited to see what other collegial things we will be able to do.
At Mayo Clinic I had the opportunity to work with Arne Graff, M.D. (FM ’14), chair, Division of Pediatric Child Abuse, and the child abuse team. I saw the underserved population they worked with — families who are struggling and children who are resilient. It’s rewarding to be part of the team that helps get children out of negative situations.
Both of my parents are recovering addicts. They’ve been in recovery since before I was born, and my mom is really active in the recovery community. She runs an inpatient treatment center for women in Rochester and provides drug and alcohol counseling in addition to her nursing career. Our family took in “strays” during the holidays — people who didn’t have families or were early in their recovery with nowhere to go. High-risk, struggling families are a special population that learned to help through my mom.
Many people comment that working in child abuse medicine will be hard. But there’s a lot of joy in it. Not everyone can find meaning in it. Child abuse pediatrics involves working closely with social workers, county workers, child abuse nurses, child abuse sexual assault nurses, police, investigators, forensic interviewers, attorneys, district attorneys and police officers. The physician is the point person, making sure the child’s medical care needs are met and that the family and child are taken care of in the best and most meaningful way to allow them to move forward.
My husband, Timothy Jaykel, M.D. (RD ’21), a resident in radiology at Mayo Clinic, will complete his training and then, hopefully, join me in Kansas City. We hope to return to Mayo Clinic when I complete training.
Ideally I’d like to on staff in pediatric emergency medicine at Mayo Clinic, as a child abuse pediatrician and as a residency program director. I hope I’ll be able to raise a family in Rochester.
I grew up in the country on the same farm my dad grew up on. He rode dirt bikes, ATVs and snowmobiles and got me interested in the same. I raced go-karts as a child. It was thrilling. You go up to 90 mph around a 90-degree corner, head to head against other races. Every weekend my parents and I traveled to races. I won state, regional and national go-kart championships. When I got bored with go-karts, I tried other motor sports including motorcycles and dirt bikes. After seeing too many injuries working in the ER and too many of my own injuries, I gave up riding my motorcycle and sold my dirt bike.
One sport I settled on was autocross, in which you use any kind of car to race on a smaller track — usually a course made out of cones in a large parking lot. You race against the clock, not against another driver. It’s much safer and, I think, makes you a better driver. You learn what to do if your car starts to slide, for example. My husband is a bit of an adrenaline junkie and motor head, too. He did some car racing in Michigan with his dad.
I got in May and then moved to Kansas City. My husband and I will be apart from each other while he completes training, so much of my free time is spent on Skype dates and driving back and forth to see each other. When I do have time, I love to cook and entertain. Cooking is a way to show those I care about how much they mean to me. I also enjoy fitness. And shopping — I can’t forget about my shoe obsession.
See past New Chapter stories here.