From the start, Phillip and Denise Kennedy were on the same track, moving in the same direction at the same pace. Not surprisingly, they ended up at the same destination doing the same thing. They have always been a couple. Now theyre a couple of family doctors working at the Center for Primary Care.
Growing up in their hometown of Midland Valley, South Carolina, Phillip and Denise were best buddies first, but friendship soon blossomed into romance, and by high school, they were sweethearts. After graduation, they furthered their education at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. They took a little time out between college and medical school to tie the knot and then enrolled together at the Medical College of Georgia. They worked side by side throughout medical school, taking advantage of their unique opportunities to spend time with one another. Many couples met during school and later married, Denise says, but I think we were the first to start and finish medical school as a married couple.
When it came time for their residencies, Denise and Phillip once again found themselves on the same course. Each one made the decision to become a family doctor. Denise recalls enjoying the full range of medical care she was exposed to during rotations providing a variety of services to patients of all ages and family medicine filled that bill. Family medicine seemed a natural choice for me, she says. I wanted to be like the old-time country doctors taking care of the whole person. Phillip likewise chose family medicine for its breadth. Family medicine is the most challenging specialty there is. Instead of focusing on one organ, we look at the whole picture, he explains. This keeps my work interesting. Being a family physician never becomes routine.
Phillip and Denise both completed their residencies in Augusta and then found themselves at a crossroads. Prior to joining CPC, each had considered various options available to them, such as academic medicine and private practice. They did not know for certain if they would end up working together, but years of togetherness had proved they could. So, when they had an opportunity to join the Center for Primary Care and, along with their colleague, Dr. Jay Tomeo, build a practice near Doctors Hospital, they enthusiastically came on board.
Being able to stay in the Augusta area was right in line with the couples personal and professional goals. We like the area and the people here. This is our hometown and we have family here, Phillip says. We always hoped wed be able to remain in the Augusta area, and we were very happy when the opportunity presented itself.
Being in the Augusta area enables Phillip and Denise to stay near their families, with whom they have a close relationship. Denise is the oldest of three sisters in her family, something to which she attributes her tendency toward perfectionism. I was a typical oldest child driven and a good student, she said. A lot was expected of me and I expected a lot of myself. Her favorite subject in school was science, and by the middle of high school, she began drifting toward a career in medicine.
Phillip is the youngest of five children in his family. His three brothers and one sister range from 4 to 10 years older. As part of a close-knit, hardworking family, he developed an intense work ethic that carries into his medical practice today. Phillip worked alongside his parents and siblings in the family furniture business from a young age, earning his own spending money and developing an independent streak. Throughout school, he was active in the student council, was elected student body president, and participated in many other activities that provided leadership opportunities.
Today, Phillip and Denise provide comprehensive care to all types of patients, but each has areas of special interest. Phillip particularly enjoys older people and cares for many patients in nursing homes, but he is also fond of pediatrics because he loves children. Denise has found her niche in womens health care and has developed an enthusiastic and loyal following.
Phillip and Denise are young doctors, but they consider their age an advantage, not a drawback. Because they both moonlighted in the emergency room during their residencies, they are experienced for young physicians. They also approach patient care and continuing education with enthusiasm and a fresh outlook. Were young, energetic, and open to change, new ideas, and growth, Denise explains. Were the kind of doctors who keep up with changes in our field by reading, continually learning, and participating in peer discussions, Phillip adds.
The most frequent peer discussions they find themselves in are one-on-one at the dinner table. We talk a lot about medicine at dinner, Denise says. Its nice . . . friendly . . . competitive . . . . Sometimes we have to steer the conversation away from medicine. At the end of the day, the important thing is that each knows and understands the demands of being a doctor and that helps them work together to balance work and home life. Denise enjoys tennis, and she and Phillip both enjoy fishing, but they have little time for leisure activities. Patient care, along with the time they spend developing their practices, can be all consuming. It takes a great commitment of time and energy to build a practice from the ground up, but it suits their personalities perfectly. Were both go-getters, Denise says, and theyre willing to put in the time and effort it takes to become respected physicians in the Augusta area.
They are proud to have maintained a happy marriage while working so closely together for so many years. Being together in medical school, residency, and practice has pulled us closer, Denise says. Weve been a team for a long time, but for us, working with each other has been a real plus, Phillip adds. Weve remained partners through it all.
Their greatest achievement in the end, however, may not be how much they accomplish, but rather what they do with what they have. We feel we do the best we can with the talents God has given us, Denise says. You just cant ask for anything finer than that.