39 Year Old Goes To School To Be A Pediatrician

. July 29, 2016.
Cheryl-Huffman

Before becoming a pediatrician caring for Findlay area children, Dr. Cheryl Huffman was a parent to her own children first.

“The fact that I was a parent before I became a physician has made me a better pediatrician,” Huffman says. “I have ‘been there’ and know what parents are going through.”

Huffman grew up in Detroit, the first in her family to graduate from college—with a degree in microbiology and zoology from The University of Michigan in 1976. The same year, she married her husband, Douglas. His law career prompted their move to Findlay. Huffman then earned a degree as a Medical Technician from Bowling Green State University. The couple became busy working and raising twin daughters.

Throughout her life, Huffman carried fond memories of her childhood pediatrician, Dr. Nuttig. “I will never forget her,” Huffman says. “When I was young, there were not nearly as many female physicians as there are today.” She wanted to grow up “to be just like her.” So, at age 39, Huffman took a leap, applying to the Medical College of Ohio, (now known as The University of Toledo Medical Center). She was accepted, and again became a student, now with two young children at home.

“My advice to parents who wish to pursue higher education is simply ‘do it’,” Huffman says. “Your children will be very proud of you. Of course there will be some events that you will need to miss, but your children will understand.”

The Right Choice

Huffman spent four years in medical school, three years in residency, and practiced at MCO, before joining Findlay’s Caughman Health Center in January 2005. Through her years of carrying a heavy workload, Huffman, like most parents, hoped she made the right decision for her family and herself. “I kept wondering how my daughters had turned out so well,” she remembers. “I often tell people that I feel my daughters grew up ‘in spite’ of us, rather than ‘because’ of us. You read what you can and ask questions when you can, but in reality, it all comes down to doing the right thing at the right time.”

Not every new pediatrician has firsthand parenting experience when they begin practicing. Huffman believes her experience made her more understanding of parents’ frustrations, especially with strong-willed children. “My second daughter is much more… strong willed. Studies show that the strong willed children are the leaders of tomorrow.”

Not only did the children thrive ‘despite’ their parents’ busy schedules, they eventually followed in their parents’ footsteps—their older daughter practicing law, and their younger daughter becoming a pediatrician. “While she often talked about other possible career options, she always came back to being a physician,” Huffman says.

Doctor’s Advice

From her experience, Huffman reiterates the consensus of physicians nationwide, warning parents against too much passive, non creative “screen time” for children. Instead, children should play board games, go to the park, make up their own games, and be active. Sugary beverages should be eliminated, and sweets saved for special occasions. “Give healthy snacks like raw vegetables with low fat dips, unbuttered popcorn, and pretzels.” Huffman stresses the importance of reading, and her patients receive a free, age appropriate book at each well-visit.

Dr. Huffman is accepting new patients
For information call Caughman Health Center at 419-427-0809